SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — As the 14 players and three coaches of the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League all-stars walked off the field at Lamade Stadium one last time Saturday afternoon, their parents and fans stood proudly behind the dugout and cheered loudly.

“It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before in my life,” third baseman Anthony Piccone said. “And it’s a feeling I’ll never forget in my life.”

Gray-NG, the New England champions, were eliminated from the Little League World Series after a tense 5-3 loss to Media, Pennsylvania, before a sun-drenched crowd of 22,809.

After making two errors and giving up three runs in the first inning, the Gray-NG boys of summer settled down and played the type of ball that helped them win their first 12 postseason games.

They tied the game 3-3 in the fourth inning on a ringing RBI single to center by Mason Amergian, but then gave up two runs in the top of the sixth inning, aided by a critical error, and the Pennsylvania team moved on to another elimination game Sunday morning.

Disappointing, certainly. Gray-NG came here to win something. The team lost its opening game of the double-elimination tournament, 10-0 to Northeast Seattle on Thursday. But its showing Saturday certainly proved it could play against the best teams in the nation.


“Our theme today,” said assistant coach Mike Amergian, “was that we were going to fight, we were going to fight till the sixth inning. And I think the boys did a good job with that.

“They weren’t out of this ballgame from the time it started to the time it ended.”

Amergian pointed out that Gray-NG had just 50 players to pick from for its all-star team.

“There are other states that have over 200 out for tryouts,” he said. “It’s amazing what they’re doing in Gray. It’s a great group of kids. So special.”


And while their run at a world championship is over, the Little League World Series experience isn’t for the Gray-NG players. They’’ll attend the MLB Little League Classic, a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals on Sunday night, with Mason Amergian participating in the first-pitch relay and teammate Mason Wescott participating in a Fruit by the Foot snack-eating contest.

They are trying to set up a “friendly” game on Monday against one of the international teams that has also been eliminated.


“They’re going to have a few days to enjoy their time,” said Ani Amergian, Mike’s wife and Mason’s mom. “They can have fun. No pressure from practice or early bedtimes. They can all enjoy themselves.”

The players got together with their families about an hour after the game ended. As they walked down the hill from their dorm, they stopped and signed baseballs for players and fans from other teams.

Strangers – baseball fans from all over the country – congratulated them on their performance.

“The boys made so many memories,” said Sadie Rioux, mom of catcher Gage Rioux. “Really, we’re just a tiny town from Maine and we had no business being here. But we’re here.

“This is a team that never, ever, even made it out of its district (tournament). This has been the experience of a lifetime and they’ll never forget that.”

At the top of the list of memories will be the bond this team formed. Lifelong friends already, they became even closer.


“When I look back on this, I’ll remember most how these 14 boys matured into young men,” Mike Amergian said. “The bonds I have with them, and the other two coaches, are stronger than cement. It’s just been fantastic.”

That Amergian got to share this experience with his son, that pitcher Mason Amergian got to share it with his dad, made it even more special.

“I was in the Little League World Series, playing against the best teams in the world,” said Mason, who was the starting pitcher and had two hits Saturday. “And I got to do it with my dad.”

Mike Amergian said he tried not to think too much about that relationship, then pointed to his eyes, which were teary.

Gage Rioux called this “a learning experience, to move forward.”

And the lessons weren’t just about how to become better baseball players, but how to handle life.


“It was just a different level of talent we went up against and it made us all better in different ways,” Piccone said. “Whether it was handling that pressure of playing in front of 22,000 or playing together as a team. We all showed the world today that we can play baseball. It just didn’t go our way.”

Second baseman Ben Gilmore, one of only two 10-year-olds playing in the Little League World Series (the other plays for Cuba), will always remember playing at Lamade Stadium – perhaps the perfect baseball park.

“Everyone treated us so well,” he said.

Mike Amergian was asked in the postgame media conference how the team’s success will affect the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League program.

“I think it will be phenomenal,” he said.

The younger siblings who attended the games and saw the Little League World Series experience as a fan are already making plans for a return trip in a couple of years. “They emulate these guys,” Mike Amergian said.

For now, however, members of the Gray-NG team will experience the Little League World Series as fans, returning home to Maine sometime early in the week to what will surely be a celebration long remembered.

They’re looking forward to it. As Piccone said, “We can’t wait to see you guys.”

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