GORHAM—Landon Bickford took a turn as the Rams’ hero on Monday afternoon, July 8: Bickford sac-flied to bat in the game’s only run, handing his boys a hard-fought, 1-0 triumph in extra innings vs. visiting Yarmouth.

“Yarmouth has been a top southern Maine program for years,” Gorham head coach Dan Morin said. “They have great coaching, and opponents can always expect sound fundamentals from their players.”

“Our guys had a chance to face one of their top pitchers,” Morin said, “Jake Goutreau held us to two hits. He should be one of the top pitchers in Class B next year. We saw early that he has an outstanding breaking ball, so if he gets up on you with first strikes he can easily pick hitters apart.”

Nick Williams pitched an excellent game for the Rams. Adam Birt / The American Journal

The first couple innings passed sedately. Then, in the top of the third, Yarmouth (aka Tucker Ford) threatened a bit: Rams pitcher Nick Williams hit batter Pat Bergen with a throw, giving him first; Bergen then skipped to second on a Matt Robichard line into center-right.

Bergen took off running again when Owen Kelley grounded – but Kelley grounded straight to Gorham third baseman Ian Obrey. Obrey, with a force at his bag, easily converted Bergen and Kelley into a double-play, ending the stretch.

In the bottom of the third, Ram Kyle Skolfield grounded to short, where Yarmouth’s Toby Burgmoter bobbled the ball ever-so-slightly; Burgmoter’s minor mishandling gave the speedy Skolfield time to reach first. Skolfield stole second at his next opportunity – but then got a little too hungry and found himself caught out, trying to steal third.

In the fifth the action hit a new peak: Yarmouth’s Gabe Collins walked onto first, then stole second; he gained third on a sac. Collins nearly scored on Gibby Sullivan’s at-bat – nearly, but not quite. Sullivan squeeze-bunted, but Williams leapt forward off the mound, lunging after the ball and underhanding it to catcher Sean Boylan, who whipped around, laid the fielder’s-choice tag on Collins and saved the run.

“Yarmouth had a chance to score on a suicide squeeze,” Morin said, “but Nick made an excellent play on the bunt and a solid throw to Boylen, who made a textbook tag for the out. It’s likely we lose without that play.”

Morin talked a bit more about Williams’s work: “Nick came up big for us by matching Goutreau pitch-for-pitch. Nick has really impressed me this year. He throws strikes, gets a lot of groundball outs and has been very dependable in big situations. The thing I like most about him, however, is his demeanor. You can’t tell whether he’s down 10 runs or pitching a no-hitter.”

Gorham’s Kyle Skolfield doesn’t quite make it to third. Adam Birt / The American Journal

Williams hashed seven Ks and lured opponents into eight groundball outs – that’s eight of 10 total Yarmouth balls in play.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Rams seemed poised – determined, fated even – to win it: Obrey walked onto first, then advanced 90 feet on a Bode Meader single grounder into left-center. Jake Polchies next drew a walk, pushing both his teammates ahead and loading the bases – with no outs.

That’s when Goutreau dug deep to save his boys. Goutreau struck out (swinging) three consecutive Gorhamites – bam bam bam! – and stranded the Rams’ trio of baserunners. Tucker Ford breathed deep.

But Gorham got a man around in the bottom of the eighth: Skolfield walked on, stole second and moved to third on a balk – one he deserves credit for generating:

“Kyle has great speed so giving him the steal sign was a no brainer,” Morin said. “Once he was on second, his baseball mind kicked in. He astutely noticed the new pitcher, Sullivan, was in the traditional windup and broke for third, causing a balk.”

After that, Bickford’s job was – well, if not easy to accomplish, at least easy to grasp. He needed to get the ball into play and far enough away from home so that no Yarmouth throw could beat Skolfield to the plate. And Bickford managed it: He golfed a ball into rightfield, and though the Tucker outfielder caught the shot, Skolfield indeed scored. 1-0 the final.

Worth noting: Skolfield also closed the game on the mound for the Rams. Skolfield, a sophomore, has already proven himself a top pitcher for Gorham. Against Yarmouth, he struck out the first two batters of the eighth, then capped the inning with a fly-out.

Gorham second baseman Dan McKeage waits on an incoming throw. Adam Birt / The American Journal

“It was a big win,” Morin said. “Yarmouth was 4-1 in countable games coming in, and we were 5-2, so it pushed us into third place in the League with just three countable games left before the playoffs.”

The sides played a second game following Gorham’s win; Yarmouth took that bout 10-7, but the Rams had the tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh after being down 6-0. “It was 6-4 after four innings,” Morin said, “10-4 after six, and we scored three in the top of the seventh.” Brandon Gordon logged two hits in the outing, including a two-run gap triple to left-center. Charlie Gay also had an RBI hit, and Caleb Hendrix held Tucker scoreless in two innings of relief.

Ian Obrey, at third for Gorham, hurls a ball towards first. Adam Birt / The American Journal

Rams catcher Sean Boylen saves a run with a tag at the plate. Adam Birt / The American Journal

Ian Obrey leads off third for the Rams in the bottom of the seventh. Adam Birt / The American Journal

Kyle Skolfield scores the winning run. Adam Birt / The American Journal

Brandon Gordon dives back to first. Adam Birt / The American Journal

Members of the Rams infield confer at the mound.


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