TOPSHAM — It seems as if when players who suit up for Edward Little and Mt. Ararat high schools get together for a baseball game, the contests are close, nail-biting affairs. 

Go back to the Class A North semifinals at Auburn Suburban Field recently, when the Red Eddies walked off with a 5-4 win over the Eagles. 

Fast-forward to Thursday, this time in an American Legion Zone 2 affair at Mt. Ararat High School, when Rogers Post of Auburn, made up largely of Edward Little players, met up with the Mt. Ararat-dominated Highland Green squad. 

Once again, the boys from Auburn came out on top, this time in a nine-inning, two-and-a-half hour 5-3 contest. Rogers Post was able to escape with a 7-1 record, while Highland Green fell to 2-7. 

Don’t let the records fool you. This one was close throughout and had both teams’ fans on the edge of their seats.

“We are one hit away, and considering where we have been to have an opportunity to win the game, we are quite pleased,” Highland Green coach Bob Neron said. “We have six sophomores in the lineup, and Hunter Lohr, a freshman, starting in center field today. We battled hard.”

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Highland Green has been complimented this season by the inclusion of a handful of Brunswick High School players. Starting pitcher Alex Larson, the Dragons’ 2016 ace, took the hill, using a dynamic curveball and a solid fastball to keep Rogers Post off balance for eight innings.  

“I have always hit against Alex, and being a batter I always feared his curveball,” said Highland Green catcher Cam Cox of Larson, who threw 110 pitches and struck out seven. “It is cool to work with him now. I try to call a great game for him, and we have a great catcher-pitcher relationship.”

“When you add another high school team in, it changes the dynamic,” said Rogers Post coach Dave Jordan, whose team hosts Bessey Motors on Saturday for a key doubleheader. “This is a game that had a playoff atmosphere. Fortunately we were able to come out on top.”

“This was a grind, and we knew that we had to get through it,” said Rogers Post center fielder Tyler Blanchard, who drove in a run in the ninth inning to give his team a two-run edge. “As the game went on, we had to dig in. This will help us a lot heading toward the playoffs. This was a good team win.”

Rogers survives

Rogers Post grabbed a 3-2 lead against Larson in the eighth inning as Gavin Bates drove in Brandon Varney. 

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But, Highland Green came right back in the bottom of the frame. Cam Cox was hit by a pitch, moved to second on an error, to third on a single by Kaileb Hawkes and scored on a ground ball by Harper Moutal for a 3-3 contest. Varney intentionally walked Nick Merrill to load the bases with one out, giving the hosts a golden chance to walk-off with a win. 

However, Varney induced consecutive pop-ups to escape, and watched his team score two in the ninth (RBI singles by Maxx Bell and Blanchard) for a 5-3 lead. Jared Norcross-Plourde, Rogers Post’s five pitcher, walked two in the home half of the ninth, but picked up his second strikeout and a fielder’s choice to end it. 

“We need to go a bit deeper in the order if we hope to get to the next level. We will be together for a couple more years. We are in these games,” Neron said. 

Highland Green grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Cox, who was 2-for-3, doubled and scored on a single by Kaileb Hawkes. 

Larson faced the minimum through three innings, including striking out the side in the third. 

“His curveball was one of the best ones that we have seen,” said Blanchard of Larson. 

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Rogers Post tied the contest in the fourth. Norcross-Plourde singled, and an error kept the inning alive. Varney ripped a single to right-center field to score Norcross-Plourde. 

Highland Green made it a 2-1 contest in the fifth. Lohr singled to begin the frame. After moving to second, Cox doubled for the second time to score Lohr. 

Larson pitched out of trouble in the sixth, but Rogers Post evened things in the seventh as Varney scored on a single by Bates. After Highland Green tied the game in the eighth, Neron removed Larson and turned to Moutal for the ninth. 

“He gave us everything,” said Neron of his starting pitcher. “We should have won the game for him. One earned run, what more can you ask for? Alex is solid.”

Blanchard and Varney both had two hits for Rogers Post, while Cox, Lohr and Hawkes picked up a pair of hits for Highland Green, which hosts Locke Mills in doubleheader action on Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. 


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