CUMBERLAND — Entering Wednesday’s game against York, each of the Greely baseball team’s eight wins were by five or more runs. Coach Derek Soule thought his Rangers needed a test. They got one in the Wildcats, eking out a 4-3 win in a battle of Class B South contenders.

“I think it was good for our team to be in a tight game. To feel the pressure of a tight game, and overcome some mistakes,” Soule said.

Greely (9-1) scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Zach Johnston led off the inning being hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Mason Kelso’s bloop single down the line in short right field that was almost caught by York second baseman Brody Gullison. Johnston then scored when Liam Sheff reached on a fielder’s choice to shortstop.

In the top of the seventh, York (6-4) put two runners on when Conor Fell hit an infield single and Gullison reached on a bunt single, but Johnston got back-to-back strikeouts to end the game. One of the top pitchers in the state, the lefty Johnston struck out 15, walking one and allowing six hits, three of which did not leave the infield.

Johnston (5-0) also worked out a jam in the top of the sixth with a strikeout with the Wildcats’ go-ahead run on third base. Johnston, who will pitch at Wake Forest University next season, kept York hitters off balance with a strong fastball and hard curve.

“(York) battled a little more than we expected. I had to mix it up. I couldn’t just rely on one pitch. One thing wasn’t going to work,” Johnston said. “The curveball was working any time in the count, which was key. It definitely helped me get through some tough situations.”

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“That’s what kids of his caliber are going to do,” York Coach Nick Hanlon said of Johnston. “You can tell he’s pitched in big ball games.”

Each Greely run was scored by a hitter who reached via walk or hit by a pitch. Three York pitchers — Zach Strand, Leo Sullivan, and Jack Joyce — combined to walk seven and hit a pair.

“That’s something that we’re working on as a program. When all four of the guys who score got there either hit by pitch or a walk, it’s tough to beat a team of that caliber. There’s no doubt that they’re good,” Hanlon said.

Down 3-0 in the fifth, York tied the game on Gullison’s bases-clearing double. After a Greely error extended the inning, all three runs were unearned.

The bottom third of the order drove in all four Greely runs. Kelso’s two-out double in the second scored Brooks Williams for a 1-0 lead. In the fourth, Johnston scored on a passed ball, and No. 9 hitter Jackson Leding scored Kelso with a groundout to second.

“We work on situational hitting a lot in practice, so it was nice to see the bottom of the order come through,” Soule said.


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