A crowd at Birchwood Brewing in Gray reacts to a strikeout thrown by Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond pitcher Kayden Oliver during the team’s game Thursday against Northeast Seattle in the Little League World Series. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

GRAY — Michelle Trepaney was among the first fans to arrive at Birchwood Brewing on Thursday afternoon, wanting to make sure she got a table near the television. As she waited for her friends to arrive and the Little League World Series game between Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond and Northeast Seattle to start, Trepaney did some work on her laptop.

“It’s absolutely insane to think they’re one of the top 10 teams in the country,” said Trepaney, an accountant who lives in New Gloucester.

The Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League team, the New England champion, made its debut in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, and the fans who gathered at Birchwood Brewing to watch the game cheered as the team was introduced to the national audience watching on ESPN. A popular gathering spot for the team’s fans, the restaurant was packed, with many fans standing, by the time Gray-NG’s Kayden Oliver threw the first pitch at 3:10 p.m.

A couple tables over from Trepaney, 9-year-old Wes Connick, of Gray, watched the game with his grandmother, Terri Milligan. This summer, Wes played for Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond’s 9- and 10-year-old all-star team. He wore his jersey as he watched his older friends play on the national stage.

“It’s cool and exciting,” he said. “I think they can go pretty far, but it will be tough to beat all those good teams.”

At the other end of the restaurant, 9-year-old John Hanley, one of Wes’ teammates, prepared to watch the game with his father, Eric. John said seeing how hard the older group worked to make it to Williamsport inspired him and his friends.


“They’re good to all these kids,” Eric Hanley said of the Gray-NG team. “I grew up here, played Little League here. They’re doing an awesome job.”

Howard Hughes, a longtime local soccer coach, was concerned that the team would be rusty following the long layoff it had since winning the New England tournament last week. When Gray-New Gloucester made an uncharacteristic error in the top of the first inning, it looked like Hughes might be right. Hughes shook his head as Northeast Seattle pitcher Trey Kirchoff kept the Maine boys off balance with a steady stream of off-speed pitches.

“That kid’s throwing nothing but junk. They’re not used to that,” Hughes said.

Stephanie Haskins, of New Gloucester, sits among the crowd at Birchwood Brewing in Gray on Thursday when the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond team lost to Northeast Seattle in its first game at the Little League World Series. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Trepaney said the attention the team is getting is nice, but some of it also is off-putting. She pulled up a sports betting website on her phone, which listed Oliver as one of the top pitchers in the tournament, making Gray-New Gloucester one of the teams to bet on to go deep. While sports betting has yet to go live in Maine, it is available in nearby states.

“Who the hell bets on 12-year-olds? That’s disturbing,” Trepaney said.

When Seattle scored six runs in the top of the third inning to take an 8-0 lead, what had been a raucous, festive atmosphere grew silent. A few minutes beforehand, it had been tough to hear ESPN play-by-play announcer Karl Ravech over the crowd. But now, Ravech’s voice filled the room.


A loud cheer went up when Alex Hanlon singled with two out in the bottom of the third inning for Gray-NG’s first and only hit.

In the top of the fourth inning, Seattle scored its ninth run. Wes Connick put his head in his hands, and rubbed his eyes. Soon, the Northwest region champs had a 10th run, then set down Gray-NG quickly in the bottom of the fourth to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule. Seattle 10, Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond 0. The game was over in 1 hour, 20 minutes.

“They looked pretty nervous. It’s crazy to see all the people at their game. They’re used to playing at our little field in New Gloucester,” Trepaney said.

The Mainers next will take on Media, Pennsylvania, in an elimination game at 2 p.m. Saturday. Birchwood Brewing will host another viewing, just as it did for all the big games in the New England tournament, and now the World Series.

Trepaney was asked, will she be here?

“Oh, of course,” she said.

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