Morrill Post eliminates Franklin County at Legion state baseball tourney

Posted July 31, 2014, at 8:34 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Franklin County experienced the other, unfavorable definition of “walkoff” Thursday afternoon.

A combined eight, scarlet-clad Flyers base runners made the walk of frustration back to the dugout to retrieve their gloves after being stranded on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Trailing by a range of two to four runs at that point, Franklin County’s failure to break it open had season-ending consequences. Morrill Post of South Portland held on for an 8-5 victory in an elimination game of the American Legion baseball state tournament at the Winkin Complex.

“Realistically one hit could open the floodgates, but that’s kind of the story of our season,” said Kyle Gunzinger, the Franklin County manager. “The kids gutted it out, though. They played tough.”

Franklin County (12-10), which reached the tournament proper by beating Westbrook here in a play-in game, dropped a 3-2 decision to Pastime Club of Lewiston on Wednesday. Morrill (20-2) advanced to an 11 a.m. Friday contest against Brewer.

The elimination game was sloppy at times, and laden with walks, but entertaining. As it did a day earlier, Franklin rallied to tie the game twice with single runs in the top of the second and third innings.

Two strikeouts and a lazy fly ball to right field helped Morrill starter Henry Curran work around a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

In the fifth, Cam Abbott’s triple and a walk and stolen base by Amos Herrin put the tying run in scoring position. Curran ended his start in style by striking out Jay Chenard, Jonny Hart and Scottie Hall in succession.

“The kid got out of that second-and-third with three straight Ks. You really have to put a ball in play there,” Gunzinger said. “This might by a 12-8 game us. It might even be 12-5, because you take a little of their momentum away and that’s how it works. (They) got out of that second and third feeling pretty good, and I think they came back and scored two runs next inning.”

Sam Troiano’s single set the table for those two Morrill runs with the help of a wild pitch, an error and a passed ball.

Franklin County’s struggles continued despite two runs in the sixth.

The Flyers had their best chance to get back into the game when Andrew Pratt and Abbott stroked consecutive RBI singles off Morrill reliever Troiano.

Jon Vickers replaced Troiano and walked Herrin to load the bases, but he struck out Chenard and Hart back-to-back end the threat.

“I just wanted to throw strikes, keep them off balance. That’s what I did. My changeup was really working well for me, too,” Vickers said. “School season I was a relief pitcher, so I’m used to it. That’s what they need me for.”

Vickers notched the save with 3 2/3 innings of no-hit relief. He struck out six.

Morrill pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts and nine walks.

Colton Lawrence took the loss, working the first five frames for Franklin. He fanned six and scattered five hits.

Abbott, Ryan Pratt and Andrew Pratt each had two hits for the Flyers. Herrin tripled and scored a run in the second inning.

On the heels of a late-night loss Wednesday to Bangor, Morrill took the lead for good with three runs on the strength of only one hit in the bottom of the third. Two walks and two fielder’s choices preceded an RBI single by Adam Helmke.

“It was tough, not going to lie,” Vickers said of the short turnaround. “Bangor’s a really good team. We’re on the line right now, so we know we’ve got to keep battling. We have deep pitching. I think we’re good.”

Troiano and Robert Graff each scored three runs for Morrill. Graff had a double and joined Helmke with two hits.

 

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