STANDISH—Nor’easter Nick Liston came off the bench cold.

Zilch in the way of a warmup didn’t stop Liston, though: He stepped to the plate and wasted little time cutting loose a three-run homer that ushered his boys from down 4-1 vs. the Patriots to even-steven with them, 4-4.

The No. 1 Nor’easters went on to defeat the two-seed Patriots 5-4. And since the game – held Thursday, Aug. 8 at St. Joseph’s – was the first bout of the Greater Northeast Collegiate Baseball League’s best-two-out-of-three championship series, the Nor’easters also took a major step towards claiming the summer’s crown.

“I expected that,” Nor’easters head coach Tony Miner said of the contest’s tightness. “I’m going to expect it on Sunday as well.” (Game two of the series took place at the Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach on Aug. 11.)

The Patriots jumped on top to start. TJ Carney-DeBord reached base safely and Brayden White did as well. Two men on. Big-swinger Arlo Pike then loaded things up, before Jake Plikus pushed Carney-DeBord home again and Justin Coppeta did the same for White. Two men on became 2-0. Nor’easters man on the mound Josh Joy escaped further danger with a K vs. Cam King, but the damage was done.

The Nor’easters threatened in the bottom of the stretch: Leadoff dynamo Ben Nelson clubbed a single into center that diving Patriots outfielder Jack Lynch couldn’t get his mitt under, and Patriots pitcher Jake Barresi walked Kolby Lambert, another force to be reckoned with. Lambert got caught out at second when Drew Healey grounded into a 3-6 fielder’s choice, but that left the Nor’easters with men at first and third.

Neither Nelson nor Healey would get home, however, as teammates Tim Brigham and Alex George flied out back-to-back to close the inning.

“We came out a little bit flat, swinging the bat,” Miner said. “The energy level wasn’t there. Collectively, as a team, to start the game, somebody’s got to step up and be a leader, especially if they see that the team is down a little bit.”

The action slowed to a simmer. The Patriots put another guy or two in scoring position through the second and third – e.g., Pike cannoned a double to the leftfield wall – but nobody scored.

Not until the fourth, anyway. That’s when King and fellow Patriot Chris Romano found their way onto base (and eventually home again). King walked to reach, lingered on first for a batter, then rounded to score when Romano bashed a ball into deep centerfield. Lambert, the Nor’easter there, misjudged the contact’s trajectory a bit and started forward in hopes of getting beneath it. It sailed over his head.

Romano stopped at third, but Lynch brought him home again in no time: Lynch matched Romano’s deep shot with one of his own. Lambert – not one to repeat a misstep – had his eye on Lynch’s shot from the moment it left the bat. Dashing backwards, Lambert turned in an agile grab just as he and the plummeting ball neared the wall.

Lambert whirled around and fired towards the infield, but Romano had plenty of time to tag up and race home. 4-0.

“I tell the guys, ‘One pitch, one out, one inning at a time,’” Miner said. “That’s how you have to play this game. For the whole nine innings.”

The Nor’easters got one back in the bottom of the fourth, with Healey doubling to the leftfield wall, advancing to third on a wild pitch during Brigham’s at-bat and racing home when Brigham sac-grounded to second. But the bottom of the seventh is where the team really woke up – and they owed it all to Liston.

Max Salevsky walked to reach, and two batters later, so did Will Snyder. Liston, who hadn’t set a cleat on the field all evening, then got the call: Step up and swing.

Well, Liston answered that call, promptly ejecting a Garrett Tracy pitch over the leftfield wall, where it splashed down in the distant trees. Salevsky, Snyder and Liston himself all rounded the bases as their side of the scoreboard ticked forward: 4-4.

“What a huge, pinch-hit, three-run homer,” Miner said. “You can’t write that stuff up.” (Author’s note: I’m doing my best.) “That’s a huge momentum shift.”

Tanner Bernier relieved Tracy after that, but the Nor’easters inched ahead in the next inning anyway. George doubled to light the fuse on the final push; Salevsky and Gravel then sacrificed in succession to carry George home. 5-4.

Cam Smith took over pitching duties late-game for the Nor’easters, and Gavin Arsenault faced the last couple batters of the game for them.

“Cam did an unbelievable job keeping us in the baseball game,” Miner said.

The contest concluded when Lynch lined out directly to Nelson, nimble as ever at short.

The GNCBL offers affordable, high-quality developmental play for college athletes from around New England and beyond. The League, founded in 2017, is on the web at www.gncbl.com, and on Twitter and Instagram both at @GNCBLBaseball. It’s also searchable on Facebook.

Nor’easters
Gavin Arsenault–Dixfield/University of Maine Farmington
Tim Brigham–Cape Elizabeth/Suffolk
Nolan Brown–Gorham/Husson
Emery Dinsmore–Waldo/Colby
Alex George–Hollis, New Hampshire/Southern New Hampshire University
Ben Gravel–Rochester, New Hampshire/St. Joseph’s
Drew Healey–Rochester, New Hampshire/St. Joe’s
Josh Joy–Smithfield/University of Southern Maine
Kolby Lambert–Naples/USM
Nick Liston–Springvale/Plymouth State
Ben Nelson–Gorham/Merrimack
Max Salevsky–Hollis/Plymouth State
Cam Smith–Gorham/USM
Will Snyder–Portland/Skidmore

Patriots
Jake Barresi–Wakefield/Nichols
Tanner Bernier–Windham/USM
TJ Carney-DeBord–Granville, Ohio/DePauw
Justin Coppeta–Westbrook/Assumption
Cam King–Portland/USM
Jack Lynch–Deering/Merrimack
Arlo Pike–Buxton/USM
Jake Plikus–Oakdale, Connecticut/Nichols
Chris Romano–Yarmouth/Colby
Garrett Tracy–Falmouth/Nichols
Brayden White–Greencastle, Indiana/DePauw

Patriots first-baseman Arlo Pike waits on a throw from the mound as a Nor’easters opponent dives back towards the bag. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nolan Brown scoots off first. Adam Birt / American Journal

Patriot Cam King leads off base. Adam Birt / American Journal

Cam Smith expertly kept the Nor’easters on top of the Patriots. Adam Birt / American Journal

Centerfielder Kolby Lambert get beneath a flyball. Adam Birt / American Journal

Tanner Bernier pitches late-game for the Patriots. Adam Birt / American Journal

Justin Coppeta leads off base. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nor’easter Ben Nelson dives back to first. Adam Birt / American Journal

Josh Joy fires a pitch towards home for the Nor’easters. Adam Birt / American Journal

Nor’easters first baseman Max Salevsky waits on a throw from the mound. Adam Birt / American Journal


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