GORHAM—Cheverus barely snuck by the Rams – final score: 2-1 – in extra innings on Thursday afternoon, April 25. The Stags struck first, before Gorham’s Aaron Goschke scored in the third to even things out; after that, though, nary a soul crossed the plate until the top of the 11th, when Cheverus’s John Welch scored on contact by Andrew DeGeorge and thus capped the day.

“It was a great high school baseball game,” Gorham head coach Chuck Nadeau said of the defense-oriented, marathon outing. “Kids from both teams really competed well and made big plays.”

Gorham slipped on the loss to 1-2 this spring. Critical to the team’s sub-.500 position at present is their youth: The Rams said goodbye to essentially their entire starting lineup last year – the lineup that carried them to the State Championship. It’s going to take Nadeau’s current crop of kids a chunk of the current season to come to grips with the speed and power of varsity ball.

“Inexperience is a big factor for us, but our kids are competing,” Nadeau said. “They’re adjusting to a higher level of competition.”

Cheverus hopped on top 1-0 at the start of the game when Welch singled and brought home Justin Ray. The Rams looked to answer in the bottom of the stretch, but couldn’t quite manage it: Trevor Loubier doubled into right with two outs, only to shortly find himself stranded there.

In the top of the second, Goschke – on the mound for Gorham – and the Rams behind him in the field, sat down the Stags’ batting contingent with relative ease. But Gorham’s own hitters struggled to get on base at their next opportunity as well: DH Aaron Mains grounded out 1-3, Trevor Gray struck out and Zack Green grounded out to short.

No, not until the bottom of the third would either side get another man around. This time, it was the Rams: Goschke, leading off, fired a single into right, then rounded to third three batters later – on a single into center by Joey Curesky.

Loubier followed Curesky up with a single, scoring Goschke and ushering Curesky along to second, but by the then the team had two outs to their name, and the inning concluded when Bode Meader couldn’t quite beat the throw from home to first on a dropped third strike.

The next umpteen innings passed without – well, they didn’t pass without any fireworks at all, just without any major explosions. Goschke dropped a trio of Stag batters like flies in the top of the fourth – K, K, K – to get his boys back to the batter’s box. Mains then took advantage of his next ups, smashing a single grounder into center; he moved to second on a Trevor Gray bunt, but then took a bit too big a lead and got caught diving back to base.

Ray got all the way to third for Cheverus in the top of the fifth, but not home; similarly, Gorhamites Jake Polchies and Kyle Skofield walked on to begin the bottom of the same inning, but Polchies never got beyond second as Curesky, Loubier and Miller struck out one, two, three.

Mains got to third in the bottom of the sixth, giving Gorham their best shot so far at seizing the lead. Mains grounded to short, reaching first safely on a drop by the baseman there, then rounded to third on another error – this one at first as well – during Gray’s at-bat. Gray even dashed into scoring position himself, stealing second during Jake Sladen’s turn in the box. Alas, the Rams just couldn’t get anyone around, and the score remained tied.

“Cheverus really pitches well,” Nadeau said. “(Jack) Mullen and Ray are experienced kids. They overpowered our hitters at times for sure. Despite that we found a way to create opportunities to win several times. I was really proud of our effort and grit.”

Defense marked the next several innings, even more than it had the first several. Gray, for instance, turned in a fantastic catch on a foul infield pop-up in the top of the seventh: Zooming over from his post at first, he slid feet-first into the backstop fence and somehow gloved the plummeting ball. Gray also had a critical leaping catch back on first in the top of the eighth. Had that throw gotten away from him, who knows what might’ve happened.

Goschke on the mound continued to look excellent; he ultimately recorded 11 strikeouts and relinquished just three hits. “Goschke was outstanding,” Nadeau said. “He’s the leader of our pitching staff. His teammates have great respect for the way he works and puts team first.”

Green – who relieved Goschke in the seventh – pitched solidly, too. “I was really impressed with Zach Green as well,” Nadeau added. “He threw five innings of two-hit baseball and gave us a chance to win – a really encouraging performance for us.”

Meanwhile, Meader at second logged a couple key grabs on ground balls, and Skofield in center did the same. The balls might’ve been routine, but in a 1-1 contest, nobody can afford to err. Alas, Gorham did err in the top of the 11th, after which DeGeorge managed to successfully sac-fly and bring Welch home for 2-1 – where things would end.

Gorham opened the season with a 5-2 loss to Thornton; they followed that up with a 1-0 victory vs. Biddeford. When the skies finally cleared again on Monday the 29th, they traveled to Hadlock Field in Portland for a night game with Deering.

“We are actually about where I thought we would be,” Nadeau said. “We have great kids who compete well, and we can pitch, but we do have an entirely new look both offensively and defensively.

“We have been good defensively, with room to improve. Offensively, we just need to continue to work, understand our strengths as hitters, execute on ‘small ball’ opportunities and get a little luck here and there. We’re actually really encouraged by what we’ve seen.”

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Aaron Goschke approaches home for the Rams.

Covering first base, Trevor Gray leaps and snags a ball – one of multiple standout plays Gray turned in on Thursday.

Trevor Gray inches off second.

Bode Meader looked solid at second for the Rams.

Ram Aaron Mains dives back to first.

Joey Curesky mans short for the Rams.

Zack Green takes a cut at the ball.

Aaron Goschke pitched an excellent game for the Rams.

Trevor Loubier edges off second base for the Rams.

Gorhamite Kyle Skofield gets under routine – but hardly unimportant – fly-ball in centerfield.