Freeport’s Colby Wagner slides safely into second base as Gray-New Gloucester’s Eli Winchester prepares to take the throw. (Eric Maxim/Brunswick Times Record)

FREEPORT — Gray-New Gloucester High School senior Will Shufelt hoped that he might make a difference when his Patriots met sixth-seeded Freeport in a Class B South preliminary baseball game Tuesday.

The right-hander certainly did, igniting a five-run second inning with a leadoff double and closing down the Falcons’ offense with a complete-game three-hitter as Gray-NG moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-1 victory.

The Patriots, seeded 11th with a 10-7 record, visit Greely on Thursday, while Freeport saw its season end at 10-7.

Shufelt scored the game’s first run, and on the mound recorded nine strikeouts. He set down the final 12 Falcons after his only blemish, a long solo home run by Freeport standout Colby Wagner in the fourth inning that made for a 6-1 contest.

“It felt really good today, a nice win and we played all together,” Shufelt said. “We scored some runs, and that is important for a pitcher.”

“He is a gamer, just a smart pitcher, and he located both the fastball and curveball,” Freeport coach Bill Ridge said of Shufelt. “He is unpredictable. He made it tough and kept us off-balance. He got outs to get out of innings. He is a senior, a good leader out there, and he just looked like, ‘Next pitch, here we go.’”

The five-run frame served to put the Falcons in an early hole, something they failed to overcome.

“We talked pre-game that if we could jump out early that we would be in good shape, with two good pitchers going. That didn’t work out the way we wanted,” Ridge said.

“What was key is that we didn’t let down,” Gray-NG coach Brad Smith said. “We came in after each inning and I asked, ‘What is the score?’ Our mindset is that we never looked at the lead. We play 0-0. We had some solid innings, good defense, and what can you say about Will?”

Solid start

Freeport starting pitcher Shea Wagner came out strong, striking out the leadoff hitter on three pitches, then starting an inning-ending double play. Shufelt allowed a single on a 3-0 pitch to Colby Wagner before picking up his first strikeout to end the first.

He stepped to the plate to open the second, and drove an opposite-field line drive just inside the left-field line for a double. A walk to Cam Andrews was followed by an RBI double by Jacob Dyer for the game’s first run.

With one out, Cam Usher singled to plate a run, and a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Damien Pye gave the Patriots a 3-0 lead. An error kept the inning going, and Josiah Rottari made the Falcons pay with a two-out, two-run single to end Shea Wagner’s stay on the mound.

Facing reliever Liam Holt in the third, Gray-NG tacked on a sixth run, with Usher’s sacrifice fly ball plating Andrews, who had earlier reached on an error.

Meanwhile, Shufelt was cruising. He permitted a single to Shea Wagner with two outs in the third, but left him stranded.

In the fourth, he hung an off-speed pitch, with Colby Wagner sending a home run to straight-away center field to make for a 6-1 contest.

“We felt pretty good that we won against Freeport earlier, but we knew that they were a good team,” Shufelt said. “I worked around the zone, used some off-speed pitches when I needed to. I threw one that I wish I had back, but I knew that I had a solid defense behind me.”

“Last game (a 4-3 Patriots win over Freeport on May 25), they saw a lefty (Pye), and (Shufelt) was different, throwing from the right side,” Smith said. “He came back after the home run and set down the next three hitters in that inning. He appears to not have a care in the world. But, deep down inside, he is a competitor.”

Freeport reliever Toby Holt took over on the mound in the third and kept the Falcons in the game. He pitched 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts. He walked two, hit a batter and permitted three hits as the Patriots pounded out nine hits overall.

But, the Falcons never figured out Shufelt, who struck out the side in the fifth and added a pair of punchouts in the seventh to complete his nine-strikeout performance.

Ridge coached four seniors for the final time.

“They have been tremendous,” Ridge of said Jack Sawicki, Caleb Salter, Josh Burke and Colby Wagner. “They produced on the field and were leaders in the dugout.”

Rottari, Shufelt and Dyer were each 2-for-4 for Gray-NG, which lost to Greely, 15-2, on April 27.

Gray-New Gloucester’s William Shufelt delivers a pitch against Freeport on Tuesday. (Eric Maxim/Brunswick Times Record)

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