Gilford catcher Brandon Sasserson looks to throw out a would-be base stealer during the Eagles' 8-5 win over Inter-Lakes on April 30. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
May 05, 2014GILFORD – Battling the cold and rain all afternoon, neither the Gilford High School or Inter-Lakes High School baseball teams gave in on April 30. But it was the host Golden Eagles that closed things out, scoring seven runs in their final two offensive innings to come from behind for an 8-5 victory in Division III action.
"We made it more interesting that I was hoping to but I'm proud of the guys," said GHS skipper Matt Finch. "That was the most heart we've shown so far this season."
It was a tough loss for an I-L team that has not had much time on a baseball field at all this spring. The Lakers played just one game before heading to Gilford (a win over Mascoma Valley), and the long break in between action took its toll, said head coach Dan Curnyn.
"That first game after vacation is always tough," he explained. "We haven't really had time to get into the swing of things yet. But we were definitely competitive considering the long layoff."
The game had the makings of a tight, low-scoring contest early on. The teams were tied 1-1 entering the fifth, but both offenses woke up as the rain picked up. The Lakers took control first, as they plated two in the top of the inning to take a 3-1 lead. Peter Baker scored on a wild pitch with two outs for the go-ahead run after singling and reaching third on an error, and Travis Manville found himself on third base right after with a triple to center field. He came around when Eamon Bean dropped down a bunt that was thrown away for the 3-1 advantage.
Gilford responded in the bottom half however, as Branden Lemay walked to lead off and came around on a Richie Edson triple to make it 3-2. Edson tied the game when Beck Stecher reached on a fielder's choice, but the Eagles were just getting started. Back to back walks to Cam Patridge and Kyle Gaudet loaded the bases, chasing I-L starter Chase Dickinson from the game. Baker came in and looked to get a double play on a grounder to third base, but an error on the ensuing throw to first base allowed two runs to score, putting the Eagles on top 5-3.
"That inning was really the first time we've done anything big offensively so far this year," Finch explained.
The sloppy play and wildness was certainly not what Curnyn wanted to see in the waning innings.
"We walked two or three in a row there and that's going to kill you," the first-year head coach said. "We were able to wiggle off the hook a couple of times in previous innings but you can't live like that forever."
Now stuck with the lead for the first time, Stecher made it hold up on the mound. The right-hander stranded the bases loaded in the sixth after getting a strikeout and a fly out to left field that was nicely corralled by Max Troiano in foul territory.
Stecher's offense gave him some insurance that the Eagles would wind up needing in the bottom of the sixth. He provided the big blow himself, clubbing a two-run double that scored Andrew Stokes (walk) and Lemay (hit by pitch) for a 7-3 lead. Stecher would make it 8-3 when he scored on an error from a ball hit by Gaudet.
"You saw some sparks of things we can get accomplished this year," said Finch.
The Lakers made things interesting in the seventh however, as the visitors didn't go away quietly. Manville and Logan Nash both scored on a Dillon Mailand sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 8-5, but Stecher got a ground ball back to the mound to end it and give the Eagles their second win of the season.
"This team has a competitive fire that allows it chances to come back but tip your hat to Gilford, they deserved to win today," Curnyn said.
Stecher went all seven innings on the hill to earn the win for Gilford, and he struck out 11 batters while walking three and allowing three earned runs on eight hits.
"All of those strikeouts seemed to come when he really needed them," said Finch. "He was throwing as hard in the seventh inning as he was in the first which is a great sign."