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Late rally not enough, as Plymouth falls to North Country

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

Hunter Lessard leaps into the arms of Ryan Finkle after Finkle scored the tying run in Plymouth's game against North Country on Saturday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
July 14, 2014
PLYMOUTH — After an 8-5 loss to Farmington on the first day of the Babe Ruth 14U district tournament, the Plymouth boys were in need of a win against North Country on Saturday, July 12, at Littleton's Remich Park.

And in the seventh inning, it looked like they just might pull it off. But North Country rallied in the bottom of the seventh to plate the winning run and advanced to the championship game.

All was pretty quiet for the first four innings, as neither team was able to get on the board, with minimal base runners reaching.

Ryan Finkle got the start on the hill for Plymouth and pitched a clean first inning. Plymouth went down in order in the first three innings as the offense was unable to generate anything.

Finkle walked the leadoff batter in the second inning and a stolen base and sacrifice bunt had him at third with two outs, but Finkle got a strikeout to end the inning and preserve the scoreless tie.

North Country put together a rally in the bottom of the third inning, as a base hit and a bunt hit put two runners on base to open the inning. However, when the next batter attempted to bunt as well, he popped it up in foul territory and catcher Hunter Lessard made the catch. He threw to third to try and get the runner diving back, but his throw was high and forced Lincoln Gonyo to go airborne to make the play, allowing the runner to slide in. However, Gonyo noticed the runner at first still wasn't back and fired across the diamond to Ethan Lauriat to complete the 2-5-3 double play. Finkle then induced a groundout to short to end the inning.

Gonyo had Plymouth's first hit in the top of the fourth, lining a double to left field, but he was stranded there. After Finkle set North Country down in order in the bottom of the fourth and Plymouth went in order in the top of the fifth, North Country was able to break through.

Two walks, a hit batter and a squeeze bunt brought home the game's first run and an error allowed the second run to score, ending Finkle's day on the hill. Owen Brickley took over on the mound and got a grounder to second, but the runner scored for a 3-0 lead for North Country.

Plymouth went quietly in the top of the sixth and in the bottom of the inning, Lauriat made a nice scoop at first to help get through the inning, leading to an exciting seventh inning.

Danny Carey led off the inning with a walk and with one out, Lauriat was hit by a pitch, prompting a pitching change for North Country. After a passed ball allowed both runners to move up, Finkle doubled to left to drive home both runners, cutting the lead to 3-2.

One out later, Alex Nangle came through with a base hit to left to drive in Finkle from second with the tying run.

North Country had a rally of their own left in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out, a walk, a stolen base and a double put two runners on. Plymouth intentionally walked North Country's number three hitter to load the bases.

The next batter squared to bunt as the runner broke from third base in a suicide squeeze attempt, but the pitch soared to the back stop and the runner slid across the plate with the winning run, ending Plymouth's season.

North Country went on to fall to Farmington in the championship game later on Saturday afternoon.

The Plymouth roster included Owen Brickley, Danny Carey, Alex Nangle, Mikey Ouellette, Lincoln Gonyo, Ethan Lauriat, Kenny Maddocks, Jackson Polombo, Hunter Lessard, Ryan Finkle, Patrick Malm and Garrett Demas. The team was coached by Kyle Underwood, Richie Manzi and Gary Finkle.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or sportsgsn@salmonpress.com

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