SCARBOROUGH—Despite laying down one of the most beautiful squeezes you could ever hope to see in a baseball game – Sean Boylen did the bunting and Bode Meader did the running – No. 3 Gorham just couldn’t sneak past No. 2 Scarborough on Monday evening, July 29.

The Boylen-Meader suicide play tied things at 1-1 between the Rams and the Storm (more appropriately known as “Academy Mortgage” for the summer season), but the latter would add another run later in the contest and ultimately, narrowly take the W.

“I just kept saying, ‘Oh, my goodness, please get the bunt down, please get the bunt down,’” Gorham head coach Dan Morin said. “When I saw it was fair, I knew we were good.”

Peter Richards threw a top-notch game for the Rams vs. Scarborough. Adam Birt / American Journal

Both teams played standout defense – anchored by standout pitching – across all seven innings. Scarborough just found a few more open square feet to land this or that hit when they really needed to. That’s essentially what secured them the victory.

Peter Richards threw a complete game for the Rams, and he opened with a strikeout. He lured the second Scarborough batter he faced into a fly-out, and eventually closed the inning by initiating a 1-3-4 pickoff of an Academy baserunner trying to steal second.

“Peter pitched a gem tonight,” Morin said. “He matched one of the top three pitchers in the State pitch-for-pitch. Peter is one of those crafty, soft-toss lefties. He really messes with people’s headspace.”

Richards added three more strikeouts in the second, and though he gave up a single in the third, it wasn’t until the fourth that Scarborough got on the board. Nick Frink tripled to deep right, and Nick Thompson singled to shallow right to bring Frink home again.

1-0 heading into the top of the fifth. That’s when Meader stepped to the plate and belted a line single into right, then moved to second on a dead ball – a pickoff attempt that flew wide of first while he loitered a little ways off the bag. He dashed 90 feet further, to third, on a wild pitch.

Then, with Boylen at the plate, Morin delivered the sign – the call for the squeeze-play. Meader took off running early. Now, that’s how a suicide squeeze works: The runner at third leaps away the moment the pitcher starts his windup. But Meader really left third early, early, early: like, so early, he might as well have taken off in the previous inning. That’s how early.

It was none too early, though: Sure, Meader was maybe a mere 15 or 20 feet from home when Boylen made contact with his bunt – his perfect bunt, a trickler down the first-base line, just barely fair – but 15 or 20 feet was just the right distance away to thwart any play on him. Instead, Frink, the Scarborough catcher, opted to throw to first. The ball flew wild, Boylen arrived safe on the bag and Meader crossed home. 1-1.

“With somebody like Nick on the mound, and you’re down 1-0 and it’s the middle of the game, you’ve got to make something happen,” Morin said. “And I can’t tell you how many times Bode’s been on third base this year where he’s like, ‘Coach!’ He wants to steal, he wants to do – he always wants to press the issue. So I just sat there and I went, ‘You know what? Let’s give it a shot.’ And the first muscle that Nick moved, Bode was down the line.”

Landon Bickford stepped in to pinch-run for Boylen at first. Bickford zipped around to third when Brandon Gordon laid down the Rams’ second consecutive masterpiece bunt. This time, Frink’s throw towards first didn’t fly wild. Really, you might say it was a little too well-aimed: It deflected, clunk, off Gordon’s helmet as he ran. Safe.

Cody Sellick, Gorham’s quickest man, took over Gordon’s running duties. But somehow, Frink still managed to throw Sellick out when he tried to steal second. In the same moment, Bickford might have leapt away from third and tried to score, but he didn’t. Turns out, Morin wanted to play things a bit more cautiously than all that.

“My thought process was, if Cody gets thrown out at second, you’ve still got that guy on third and on a passed ball or a base hit, you’ve got a good chance,” Morin said. “And these are high school kids. Scarborough executes with the best of them, but at the same time, they’re high school kids.”

“It was kind of deflating to get Cody thrown out at second,” Morin added. “I think it would’ve been more deflating to have a runner thrown out at home and to have a runner on second. Then you’re not sure you’re going to score on a passed ball or even a base hit.”

Alas, Bickford never made it home and Academy wasted little time in regaining the lead, pushing ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Brennan Dill tallied the run.

Meader – he’s been on fire for much of the summer, both swinging the bat and manning shortstop for the Rams – gave his boys their best chance to come back a second time, sending a hard grounder past Thompson in the top of the seventh. But Thompson’s second baseman had his back, and Meader found himself thrown out at first any which way. Shortly, the game drew to a close.

The defeat concludes Gorham’s run through the CMG Mortgage Summer League season. The League was founded in 2017 to provide players in Southern Maine a low-cost, low-travel developmental option. Athletes who’ll be returning to their high school teams the following spring are eligible. (So, no freshly graduated seniors heading off to college this autumn.)

Colin McDonald waits on an incoming ball at first. Adam Birt / American Journal

Gorham third baseman Ian Obrey unwinds into a cross-field throw. Adam Birt / American Journal

Kyle Skolfield gets beneath a flyball in centerfield. Adam Birt / American Journal

Bode Meader slides back to first after nearly getting caught in a pickle.

Quinn Dillon, who’ll be a freshman in the fall, is already a noteworthy presence at second for the Rams. Dillon will successfully lay this tag on his Scarborough opponent. Adam Birt / American Journal

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