GRAY — Sammie Wilkins was in a slump.

Past tense.

Twice she came up with the score tied and runners on, and both times she responded with a single to center, driving in three runs to lead No. 5 Gray-New Gloucester to a 7-4 victory over No. 12 Falmouth in the preliminary round of the Western Class B softball tournament Tuesday.

Gray-New Gloucester (13-4) advances to the quarterfinals Thursday at No. 4 Maranacook (12-4).

“I’ve been popping it up or hitting it right at people,” said Wilkins, a catcher who bats seventh in the order. “I finally hit the gaps (Tuesday) and it felt good.”

The score was 4-4 through five innings in this third meeting between familiar Western Maine Conference opponents. A spunky Falmouth squad (8-9) that lost 8-1 last week and 4-0 a month ago to Gray-New Gloucester jumped to a 2-0 lead, then rallied after falling behind 4-2.

Amanda Carver of Falmouth relieved starter Jayde Bazinet after a four-run (all unearned) first inning and kept the game close by retiring the first 10 batters she faced.

Falmouth threatened to go ahead in the top of the sixth on two walks and one of the four Gray-New Gloucester errors, but Wilkins squeezed a tipped third strike from Steph Greaton to strand three runners.

“That was a big deal for us,” said Gray-New Gloucester Coach Amanda Harmon, whose team promptly took control with a three-run inning.

Greaton lined a single off the glove of an infielder. Abby Ordway followed with a single to center. After a force at third, Wilkins delivered her second clutch hit, a ground single up the middle on a 1-2 count to score Ordway and put the Patriots ahead for good.

In the home first, Wilkins hit a two-out, two-run single to break a 2-2 tie.

“I shortened up my stroke,” she said. “And I actually had some confidence.”

In the sixth, a wild pitch and a pinch single by Anna Knapp allowed two more runs to score. Greaton then overcame an error and an infield single in the top of the seventh to close it out, ending with her fifth strikeout in three innings of one-hit relief.

“Even though we made some mistakes, we put ourselves in great position to score some runs,” said Falmouth Coach John Keyes. “I’m just so proud of them.”

Elizabeth Walker had three of Falmouth’s five hits and drove in two runs. Alyse Bazinet drilled the game’s first pitch for a single that sparked Falmouth’s two-run first, aided by a sacrifice fly from Maddie Inlow and an RBI single by Walker.

It might have been more had Bre Bozzuto not snared a sharp liner by Ashley Collins and stepped on first for a double play.

Inlow tripled and scored to make it 4-3 in the fourth. Wilkins, Ordway and Sandy Ricardi each had two hits for the Patriots.

“They came out hard,” said Gray-New Gloucester shortstop Alex Thompson, whose double in the fifth was her team’s only extra-base hit. “They put pressure on us, but pressure is good. We like pressure.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH