Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League team is the first team from Maine to reach the Little League World Series in nearly two decades and only the fourth from the state to ever qualify. Photo courtesy Nate Stone

The Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League all-stars became just the fourth team from Maine to qualify for the Little League Baseball World Series, beating Canton, Massachusetts, 2-1 on Thursday night in a tense New England Region final at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Center in Bristol, Connecticut.

Kayden Oliver earned the win with 5 1/3 innings of five-hit pitching, striking out 10 before reaching his 85-pitch limit. Caleb Barker relieved with the tying run at first. A bloop single to shallow center by Mikey Zollo and a passed ball put Canton runners at second and third with one out, but Barker struck out Ryan Roberts and Declan Kelleher to preserve the win. The final outcome was delayed as umpires reviewed whether catcher Mason Amergian, who had dropped the third strike, had tagged Kelleher. After several minutes of review, umpires determined the tag was applied.


Gray became the first team from Maine to reach the Little League World Series since Westbrook in 2005.

The game was delayed 75 minutes by thunderstorms, but it didn’t take long for the Maine champs to get on top. They scored single runs in the first and second innings.

In the first, Barker singled to center, driving home leadoff hitter Gage Rioux, who had singled and moved to second on a walk to Amergian.


Maine increased its lead to 2-0 in the second inning when Grant Brann’s line drive to right field was misplayed. Brann raced to third, then scored when the right fielder’s throw was wild.

Oliver retired the first six batters before giving up three hits, a walk and an unearned run in the third.

Prior to Thursday’s game, Coach Brad Shelley said the team’s success has been built on its cohesiveness and depth.

“These boys all work so great together. They pick each other up,” Shelley said. “We’ve had different kids in different games punching above their weight, and that’s really been something we’ve grabbed ahold. We’ve had kids in the middle of our lineups, when we needed a run, that have come through and helped open a game up.”

Entering the regional final, Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond had won all 11 of its games in district, state and regional competition, outscoring opponents 77-8. That included a 3-0, seven-inning win over Salem, New Hampshire, in its regional opener, and a 7-1 victory over Massachusetts on Monday. Massachusetts then defeated New Hampshire, 5-0, in an elimination game on Wednesday.

The final was initially scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Parents were getting anxious in the lead-up to the game, knowing their sons were one win away from making history, said Nate Stone, the president of Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League.


While the team and coaches stay in barracks-style dormitories at the Giamatti complex, parents have to keep themselves occupied at nearby hotels.

“They’re way more nervous than the kids, for sure,” Stone said. “The kids are swimming in the pool, and probably had practice earlier today. I’d guess they’re taking batting practice right now. But for the parents, everyone is as nervous as can be because it’s such a big deal. The kids just know they’re getting ready for another game.”

Travis Brann, 44, of Gray, is the father of Grant Brann, the team’s right fielder.

“I’m nervous. I’m not going to lie,” Travis Brann said. “I’ve been watching (the Little League World Series) since I was a kid, and the fact that these kids have a chance to do this, from our town, is amazing.”

Brann said he’s especially impressed that Gray-New Gloucester had been so successful considering the league had only 45 players and four teams in its 11-12 age group (all-star second baseman Ben Gilmore was the only 10 year old who played in the 11-12 division). Canton, Massachusetts, had six teams in its majors division, meaning it had about two dozen more players to choose from when forming an all-star team.

This is the first time Gray-New Gloucester’s 11-12 all-star team won a district or state title.


The team has received significant community support.

“We’ve got the whole Gray-New Gloucester community behind us 100 percent, and that’s amazing,” Brann said.

Stone said about $33,000 has been raised so far to help defray lodging and meal costs for parents during their stay in Connecticut.

“If we win tonight, we’ll have to start another (round of fundraising),” Stone said. “We would need as much as $70,000 if we go all the way to the championship.”

Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond is scheduled to leave by charter bus Friday morning for the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. That event starts Wednesday, and the first game for Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond is Thursday at 3 p.m. against the Northwest Region champion.

A total of 20 teams – 10 from the United States and 10 international squad – will participate in the World Series, which concludes Aug. 27.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story