After struggling to get the clutch hit for much of the game against Gray-New Gloucester, it was two home runs that proved decisive in the seventh inning. That gave the Rangers enough of a cushion to hold off the Patriots in a 7-5 victory.

“It ended up being long ball that saved our butts,” Greely coach Rob Hale said. “It was two seniors that never hit a home run before.”

Charlotte Benoit hit the first one, a solo shot over the fence to left. Then after a single, Sarah Felkel clouted the second shot, putting it just a few feet from where Benoit’s homer landed.

“We were missing the big hit,” Hale said. “We had someone on every inning, but we didn’t get that big hit.”

Felkel finished with three hits and two RBIs. Pitcher Kelsey Currier had two hits and drove in a pair, while Benoit also drove in two with a hit. Currier allowed just four hits, all coming in the final four innings. She no-hit the Patriots through the first three innings. She’s now pitched six games in the last seven days.

“I’m just trying to ice and rest for my teammates,” said Currier, who struck out four. “A little bit at the end, I started getting tired, but I pushed through it.”

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The Patriots (7-4) rebounded from deficits of 4-0, 5-2 and 7-2 and put pressure on the Rangers (9-3) in the final inning but fell short.

“It definitely showed a lot of character and heart,” Gray-NG coach Amanda Harmon said. “It’s not the first game where we’ve been down and come back strong. They’re definitely playing all the way through. I wish it would start in the first with that intensity and desire to get it. But that last inning, they’re not down just because they’re behind.”

The Patriots had trimmed the lead with two runs in the sixth. Grace Kariotis singled in a run and Alie Martell followed with an RBI fielder’s choice. Being within striking distance didn’t last long. With one out in the seventh, Benoit drilled her shot to left that landed over the fence.

“I wasn’t even sure it was going out when I hit it,” Benoit said. “I didn’t know it was a home run until she raised her hand when I was rounding first.”

Evan Carrell singled for her second hit of the game. Then Felkel followed with a similar blast over the same fence for a 7-2 lead.

“That’s happened in a few games where we’ve had one or two big innings when we had people make solid contact,” Benoit said.

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Currier had a seemingly comfortable lead, but the Patriots continued to battle back. Two errors opened the door for a Gray-NG rally. With one out, Kaelyn Woods singled and later scored on a fielder’s choice on an error. Then Amanda Thayer and Kariotis scored when an errant throw on a steal got past the outfielders, allowing the Patriots to get within 7-5.

“At first we started to get a little cocky and once they started getting hits, we had to bear down and make sure that we stayed on top,” Currier said.

Currier got the second out of the inning with a tremendous leaping catch and served up a fly to right to end the game. Carrell also made a great catch with a scoop of a sinking liner in right. Jennie Smith threw out some runners trying to steal.

“It was a good battle up through the fifth inning,” Harmon said. “They left a lot of runners on. We worked hard to get the outs and not let any of them advance. We were making contact. Then we finally got things moving.”

Greely had five hits and stranded five runners through the first four innings against Martell. She finished with four strike outs before Haley True came on to finish the game in the seventh. The Rangers couldn’t plate one until the sixth. A leadoff walk to Smith and back-to-back singles by Currier and Moira Train loaded the bases. After a pop-up, Benoit drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center.

“That’s when I was just trying to make contact, and if I could, get it up in the air,” Benoit said.

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Greely made it 4-0 in the sixth. Miranda Eisenhart singled in a run and Currier delivered a two-run hit.

Gray-NG got two runs in the bottom of the inning to get within 4-2, but the home run barrage in the seventh only bolstered the lead. The Patriots were hoping to make a jump in the Class B South standings with a win over Greely, currently ranked third. Gray-NG was ranked ninth.

“It would have been a good boost, but it doesn’t mean we’re done and down and out,” Harmon said. “We have some other games that could boost us up. Every day is a new day. It’s going to take work no matter who we play or where. It’s important to remember that every game matters.”

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