Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond’s Little League all-stars have already had a lot to celebrate, like Mason Amergian’s walk-off homer in the state final against Augusta. Thursday night, they hope to celebrate becoming just the fourth team from Maine to reach the Little League World Series. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

One more win.

That’s what the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League Baseball all-star team will be striving for Thursday night in Bristol, Connecticut, in the nationally televised New England Regional final.

If the Maine champions beat Canton, Massachusetts, for the second time in four days, they’d become the first team from Maine in 18 years – and just the fourth ever – to play in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“I dreamed about it and thought it would be cool, and we’re one game away from it,” said Anthony Piccone, 12, of New Gloucester, who has started games in center field and at third base. “It’s the most important game of our life. Just go out and do our thing, and we’ll be right there.”

Maine will play Massachusetts at 7 p.m. in a game televised by ESPN. While Maine (2-0) is undefeated, including a 7-1 win over Massachusetts (2-1) on Monday, the championship game is a winner-take-all contest.

“I think they understand all the work and effort they’ve put into date to get this far,” said Brad Shelley, the team’s head coach. “They’ve got to keep their tools sharp and focused for one more game.”


The team practiced Wednesday before watching Massachusetts eliminate New Hampshire, 5-0, in the losers’ bracket final. Piccone said he and his teammates are trying not to look ahead to a possible trip to Williamsport.

“We’re not thinking about that yet. We’re focusing on (Thursday),” Piccone said. “We just need a lot of focus. We all have to be ready and we all have to sleep right tonight and go to bed, and show up to the field ready.”

Thursday’s game could feature two powerful pitchers who shined on the first day of the regional. Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond’s Kayden Oliver pitched 6 1/3 innings in a 3-0, seven-inning win over Salem, New Hampshire, allowing one hit and striking out 10. Massachusetts is expected to start Nathan Chabot, who struck out 15 and yielded only one hit in a 12-0 win over St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond pitcher Kayden Oliver, shown during a five-inning no-hitter in the state final, is available to pitch Thursday in the New England Regional final against Canton, Mass. Oliver threw 6 1/3 innings of one-hit ball in the regional opener against Salem, N.H. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Shelley said he hadn’t settled on a starting pitcher. While Oliver threw a no-hitter in the state final and another no-hitter in district play, regular third baseman Caleb Barker, who got one out to finish the win against Massachusetts in relief of Mason Amergian, is also available. Barker tossed a shutout against Ellsworth in the state tournament and a no-hitter against South Portland in district play.

“He’s a very good pitcher, one of our aces,” Shelley said.

If the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond all-stars do win, they will join the exclusive company. The last team from Maine to reach Williamsport was Westbrook in 2005 when Connecticut and Rhode Island were part of the New England bracket. Those states are now in the Metro Region. Augusta East 1971 won the East Region, which included New York and New Jersey in addition to the New England states. In 1951, Suburban Little League, with players from Cape Elizabeth, Westbrook, Scarborough, and Falmouth, made it to the World Series.


Since regional tournaments were instituted in 1957, only four other teams from Northern New England, all from New Hampshire (1987, 1993, 2006, 2021), have reached the World Series.

The boys from Gray-New Gloucester have already attracted plenty of fans.

“I have over 50 messages on my phone from when we get back to the dorm after every game,” said shortstop Gage Rioux, 12, of New Gloucester.

Twelve of Gray-New Gloucester’s 14 players also play for a travel ball club program, said assistant coach Mike Amergian. The all-star team is 11-0 and has outscored its opponents 77-8, with seven shutouts.

“We knew we had a special group of kids about five years ago,” Mike Amergian said. “Are we surprised we made it this far (to the regional tournament)? No. Are we surprised we’re undefeated and playing in the championship game on Thursday? Absolutely.”

In Little League, every player on the roster is included in the batting order. Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond has 14 players on its all-star team. Most of the teams in Bristol, which is also hosting the Metro Region and Mid-Atlantic Region, have 12 players.


That means it takes longer for Maine to get back to the top of its batting order, which typically is where a team’s best hitters are located.

“It’s more opportunities for a couple of kids to have this experience,” Shelley said. “(Having) 14 kids continues to come up from other teams and other coaches, but it hasn’t been a weakness for us. It’s something that’s been good for us.”

Rioux said the whole team is great at “keeping the team rolling, bringing the spirits up, just no negative thoughts.”

Piccone agreed that more is better. “It definitely helps us carry each other more, that there’s more guys. We have a lot of hitters. Everybody can hit,” Piccone said.

Rioux admits he’s surprised Gray-New Gloucester is so close to the World Series.

“I saw our talent on our team, but we had no clue we were going to go this far,” Rioux said.


Rioux, Piccone, right fielder Grant Brann, second baseman Ben Gilmore, outfielder Ivan Deemer, and outfielder Cam Beckwith live in New Gloucester. Gilmore is just 10 years old. He was the only 10-year-old to play in the league’s four-team, 45-player Majors Division. Brann leads the team with three hits at the regional.

In addition to Oliver, Amergian, and Barker, the players from Gray are right fielder/first baseman Zac Feehan Jr., left fielder Nathan Shelley, first baseman Mason Westcott, infielder Chase Pacanza, and third baseman Alex Hanlon. Amergian was the star of Monday’s win against Massachusetts, pitching 5 2/3 innings and driving in five runs, including a grand slam.

Raymond joined the league in 2022. While there are no players from Raymond on the all-star team, Coach Shelley said he hopes this year’s all-star success will increase interest in playing Little League. Across Maine and the nation, participation in Little League has declined over the past 20 years.

“We hope a run like this encourages kids to play baseball,” Shelley said. “We know we’ve seen it with younger siblings and younger kids looking up to these boys. Us coaches, that’s what we’re most excited about.”

Nate Stone, the league president, said that if Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond wins Thursday night, a welcome-home celebration would have to wait. Players and coaches for the winning team will board a charter bus on Friday morning and go directly to Williamsport.

The World Series begins next Wednesday. The New England champion will play its first game at 3 p.m. Thursday against the Northwest champion. The loser of that game would play an elimination game next Saturday. The winner won’t play its second game until Monday, Aug. 21.

The tournament, with 10 international teams and 10 from the United States, concludes on Aug. 27.

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