Gilford's Andrew Stokes gets his lead off third base in the fourth inning of the Eagles' 8-6 win over Belmont in the regular season finale on Friday afternoon. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
June 02, 2014GILFORD – In just one inning, the Gilford High School baseball team turned what was looking like another lopsided lost to Belmont High School and a missed postseason appearance into a momentum-gaining victory.
The host Golden Eagles trailed 6-1 in the fourth inning before pushing across six runs in the frame, and they tacked on another in the sixth to somehow come away with an 8-6 victory in the regular season finale for both teams on Friday afternoon.
"You can't score six runs with nobody on base so the mantra becomes, everybody has to be a leadoff hitter," said Gilford coach Matt Finch of the fourth inning rally. "We got contributions throughout our order and it was just station baseball really. Everybody moving up and down the lineup."
The win came just 11 days after the teams met in Belmont, with the Raiders breezing to a 10-1 victory. Things appeared headed in that direction once again before the Eagles came to life and overcame the five-run deficit.
"I tip my cap to Gilford," said Belmont skipper Matt LeBlanc. "They could've cashed it in down 6-1 and called it a day but they kept fighting and earned the win."
The big blow in the fourth came off the bat of Beck Stecher, who clubbed a two-run single to tie the game at 6-6 with the bases loaded. Kyle Gaudet but Gilford up 7-6 when he followed with an RBI single of his own.
The Eagles brought in ace Zach Poisson for the final three innings of action after taking the lead, and the junior didn't disappoint. Poisson didn't allow a run in his time, keeping the Raiders off the scoreboard with the help of his changeup.
"Last time at Belmont, Zach was getting on top of the ball and (Belmont) took advantage," said Finch. "But today his changeup was his out pitch. When he's on the mound, he's not a strikeout pitcher so the defense has to be on its toes. The guys know that and they made the plays behind him after being a little shaky in the early innings."
Less than two weeks after getting to Poisson for 10 runs, the Raiders offense couldn't get any rallies going on Friday.
"Poisson shut us down," said LeBlanc. "He kept us off balance and did a good job."
Gilford tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, as Gaudet reached on an error and scored on a Brandon Sasserson RBI single to make it 8-6.
The Raiders tried to get something going in the seventh, as Caleb Drouin led off with a single. But a strikeout and a 1-6-3 double play closed out the win, keeping Gilford's playoff hopes intact.
"I don't know if we get into the playoffs if we lose this one," said Finch, whose team finished the regular season 8-8, same as Belmont. "Our playoffs had already begun before this game making it a must-win."
Joe Levesque and Drouin combined on the mound for Belmont in the game, with Levesque taking the loss after the fourth inning struggles. The Raider defense didn't do him any favors on the afternoon, as the squad struggled with giving Gilford extra chances.
"You can't give a team fighting for their playoff lives extra outs," admitted LeBlanc. "If you keep doing that like we did, they're going to go out and take the game and that's exactly what happened. I know we can play with anyone and we've proven that this year. But when we give extra outs, we make it real tough on ourselves."