GRAY – Greg Labonte’s first swing changed the tone of Wednesday’s baseball game.

His second swing changed the result.

Labonte hit a three-run homer in the fifth and added a two-run double in the sixth to lift Gayton Post to a come-from-behind 7-5 win over Gray in American Legion action.

Gayton was down 5-0 before Labonte’s home run sparked a resurgence.

“We stayed focused,” said Gayton coach Todd Cifelli. “We could have easily packed our bags and said there’s a game (Thursday), but we kept cracking away. Greg Labonte’s three-run bomb was a big confidence boost.”

Gayton kept itself in the game thanks to the work of its bullpen. After Gray scored five runs in the first two innings off starter Alex Wong, Gayton used Troy Saucier, Jon Paradis, Keith Neagle and Josh Leino to produce five innings of shutout relief. Gayton also solidified things in the field.

“We piece-mealed that to the end of the game,” said Cifelli, who tried to avoid the Gray hitters from seeing the same pitcher for more than one at-bat. “That’s a good hitting team. We tried to throw some guys at different spots and keep them off balance. It kept them at the five spot.”

Gray’s starter Pete Clement allowed just two hits through the first four innings. He got into trouble in the fifth, and Gray’s bullpen couldn’t hold the lead.

“Our season ended about 18 days ago,” said Aaron Talon of the Gray-New Gloucester season. “He hasn’t thrown live in awhile. He got to the fifth inning, and he started to miss up a bit and that pop wasn’t there anymore.”

Paradis and Mike Fontaine each drew walks in the fifth. With two outs, Labonte drilled his homer to left.

“At St. Dom’s I had faced that guy during the regular season,” said Labonte. “I knew what he had and what to expect. It was getting late, too. So he was getting a little tired. I think he missed a spot, and I crushed it.”

The next inning Paradis hit a solo homer with one out to make it 5-4. Two walks put runners on for Labonte’s second at-bat. He drove one to deep center that produced a double and plated both runners for the 6-5 lead. Erik Waite scored on a Gray error in the seventh for the 7-5 edge.

“I was just looking for a base hit,” said Labonte. “The pitcher wasn’t overly powerful. So I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. We had a guy at first and third. So an RBI would have been good. He gave me a good pitch, and I got a good piece of it.”

Gray tried to rally in the seventh off Leino. With one out, a walk and an error put runners on. Leino got a strike out but another walk loaded the bases for Josh Dumaine. He hit a sinking liner to center for the final out.

“I think we tried to turn it off in the second inning and turn it back on in the sixth and seventh,” said Talon. “That’s not how it works in athletics. I’d rather this happen today than in July when it means the end of our season. I hope it’s a wake-up call for the guys.”

Gray built the lead two runs on four hits in the first. Two RBI singles by Zach Canter and Lucas Chase made it 2-0. Two hits and four walks made it 5-0 in the second. Artie Winship singled in a run. Clement had a sacrifice fly and Nick Derice walked with the bases full.

“We had a great couple of innings and then we thought the game was over,” said Talon. “We put it in cruise control. I give Gayton Post all the credit in the world because they didn’t once pack that game in they battled all the way.”


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