While Freeport ace Pete LaMagna pitched a nine-K, three-hit shutout against visiting Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday afternoon, the Falcons slowly crept ahead on offense, logging one run in the first then two more in the sixth to ultimately secure a 3-0 W.

“You got the feeling from Pete right in that first inning that he was going to go out and be dominant,” said Freeport head coach Bill Ridge. “We just weren’t sure how dominant.”

“I told the guys, ‘You don’t beat too many teams who you don’t score runs on,’” said Gray-New Gloucester head coach Brad Smith.

“Their pitchers have had our number. We’re 0-4, I think, over the last two years,” Smith said of the Patriots’ recent performances against Freeport. “[LaMagna] pitches very well; we saw their best – and they saw our best.”

The Falcons thus closed their regular season at 8-8, tenuously in possession of B West’s seventh-place slot. Morse trailed them in the Heal Points, but by less than two, and Lincoln led them – but again by less than two. Both teams had one game left to play at the time; those results have since trickled in, however – and Freeport’s seed is secure.

GNG, meanwhile, finished up at 7-9 and in 10th place – behind Lake Region, but ahead of Poland, both 5-11. The top 10 teams make the cut, so the Patriots are on to the postseason as well.

Jack Davenport scored Freeport’s opening run in the bottom of the first on Wednesday. Davenport walked onto base, stole twice during Colby Wagner’s at-bat, then returned home when G-NG shortstop John Henry Villanueva bobbled Wagner’s grounder.

“We made [John Henry] the permanent shortstop maybe five or six games ago,” said Smith. “And I think that’s the first error he’s made. He’s been rock solid.”

After that, the game morphed into a battle of pitching and defense, and the lineups matched each other well enough for the next five innings to keep the score at 1-0.

In the sixth, though, Wagner knocked another grounder, this one cleanly outside Villanueva’s grasp and into leftfield. Two batters later, he reached third when Bennett Hight blasted a standing double off the centerfield wall.

Baseball is about timely hits – “and it’s about opportunity,” said Smith. “They had the opportunity for their balls to drop in; ours were either ground-outs or pop-outs.”

Ben Humphrey stepped in to pinch-run for Hight, and both he and Wagner grabbed another 90 feet, Wagner reaching home, when one of Patriot Tyler St. Pierre’s pitches slipped away from catcher Evan Harmer and skittered on toward the backstop.

Humphrey then scored when Caleb Rice grounded: Second baseman Zack Mann’s throw to teammate JT Magno at first caught Rice out, but Humphrey was already halfway home and Magno’s hurl to Harmer arrived a hair too late.

“Their pitcher was getting up there in pitches,” said Ridge of St. Pierre. “He gave us a few free passes. And one of them we really earned: The ball that Humphrey scored on, no one else on the team scores on that ball. That’s why we put him out there. He’s fast enough and he’s crazy enough to make that play.”

LaMagna had only to silence the Patriots for three more outs, and he did, grabbing that ninth K in the process. 3-0 the final.

“We weren’t really confident that [first, unearned run] was going to be enough,” said Ridge. “We felt like it could be, it could give us a chance. But getting those next two gave us all the confidence in the world, thinking, ‘There’s no way we can lose this with Pete on the mound.’

“Getting the lead with Pete on the mound is huge. You feel like he’s going to go out there – you know he’s just going to try to win it for us.”

“They didn’t blink and we did,” said Smith. “It doesn’t diminish the fine effort that our kids put in.

“Their top five kids against us, in the first game, did not strike out at all. So we knew they were contact hitters. Particularly LaMagna and Davenport – and we had plans for them.”

Those plans worked well enough: Davenport went 0-3, though he did reach base twice on balls, and LaMagna went 1-3; the Falcons simply managed to squeeze in their offense elsewhere.

Conveniently, G-NG and Freeport won’t even have to prepare for different teams in their tourney prelims: Nos. 7 and 10 face off in the bracketing, so the Patriots will travel to the Falcons’ nesting ground once again on Tuesday, June 9.

“With the pitching that we’ve been getting in the last half of the season,” Ridge said, “we’ve got all the confidence in the world. We’ll go against anyone.

“The bats are coming around – we’re situationally hitting, at least; we’re not lighting up any scoreboards, but when we get guys in scoring position, less than two outs, we’re getting them in. And the defense has looked pretty solid.”

The Falcons have won their last four straight, including a big, 4-0 triumph over No. 5 Yarmouth. Prior to Wednesday, the Patriots had won two consecutive, including their second of the year over Lake Region.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Tyler St. Pierre hurls a ball toward home in the Patriots’ loss at Freeport on Wednesday.Freeport’s Pete LaMagna threw nine Ks against the visiting Patriots in the Falcons 3-0 win on Wednesday.Gray-New Gloucester’s second baseman Zack Mann grabs an infield fly to secure an out against Freeport on Wednesday.Freeport first baseman Caleb Rice leaps after a high pass as Gray-New Gloucester’s JT Magno makes for the bag.Gray-New Gloucester’s JT Magno slides into second as the ball shoots loose of Falcon Max Doughty’s grasp.Freeporter Bennett Hight dashes back to base as the throw from Gray-New Gloucester pitcher Tyler St. Pierre speeds toward JT Magno on first.Freeport shortstop Jack Davenport grabs a ground ball against Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday.Gray-New Gloucester third baseman Daulton Corthell plucks an infield fly from the air at Freeport on Wednesday.Colby Wagner crosses home in the Falcons 3-0 win over Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday.

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