OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Luke Klenda led the Nor’easters past the Patriots at the Ballpark on Sunday afternoon, July 17, dominating on the mound. And while Klenda gave up no hits, his team tallied plenty: The Nor’easters’ five-run first inning would’ve sufficed to win them the game, but they piled runs on runs until finally they mercy-ruled the Patriots 15-3 in the seventh.
The Nor’easters and the Patriots are two member teams of the Greater Northeast Collegiate Baseball League (GNCBL), founded this year to provide college baseball players from Northern New England with a competitive summer option.
Nor’easters head coach Mark Ouimet, a Portland native now on staff at UMass Dartmouth, actually pulled Klenda (Yarmouth, St. Joe’s) midway through the burgeoning no-hitter.
“I had to take him out,” Ouimett said, “just because the way we’re working this league right now is more so development. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a good team this year. They’ve really worked hard for me. And as soon as I went up to Luke and said he was done, he goes, ‘I get it. It’s all about the team anyway.’”
“We’ve got to tip our hat to their pitcher,” Patriots assistant coach Dave Abramson said. “He did a great job. He changed speeds really well. Even when there were some questionable calls, he came back with some good pitches and got us when he had to. They only time we could do anything with them was when he was off the mound; that’s a testament to how well he threw.”
The Nor’easters kicked off the bout with, as mentioned, five runs in the first. Leadoff man Anthony Diprizio (Rochester, N.H.; St. Joe’s) singled into right to begin the push; Patriots starting pitcher Sam Troiano (South Portland, USM) then walked Michael Bailey (Manchester, N.H.; Keene State) for two runners on. Troiano’s tough day continued and he gave up another single, this one down the leftfield line, to Connor Lee (Bedford, N.H.; Bowdoin). Diprizio scored on the hit.
Troiano logged his first K, a swinging out against Connor Walsh (Goffstown, N.H.; Keene State), before relinquishing another walk – to Darren Wood (Wiscasset, USM) – and a drive double to centerfield that brought home both Bailey and Lee. 3-0.
The Nor’esters would add two more before Troiano and Co. could escape the onslaught. The Nor’easters would, however, also hash four in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth.
“Luke got us off to a good start,” said Ouimet, “and obviously we’ve been swinging the bats well, too, so getting five on the board right out of the gate helps him settle in, and be able to just go fill up the zone, which his huge.”
Ouimet talked a bit more about his team’s offense: “One of the things we’ve preached right from the get-go was, hitting your pitch, staying in your zone,” he said. “Hitting’s a very simple thing, and it’s very difficult to stay locked-in mentally, always with your pitch. For the most part, guys are buying into that motto of, ‘Stay in my zone. If they dot the corner, they dot the corner; it’s okay. I’m not going to hit that ball very well anyway.’”
Not until the seventh – when Zach Quintal (Eliot, USM), Kip Richard (Kenenbunk, USM), and Anthony Degifico (South Portland, USM) all rounded to home – did the Patriots get on the board.
To force an eighth and a ninth, however, the Patriots needed more than three. Instead, the mercy rule kicked in and sent everyone home for the day. 15-3 the final.
“We’ve been coming out of the gates hot a lot, getting up on guys,” Ouimet said. “Our biggest issue so far has been getting up 7-2, 8-2, 8-0 and then all of a sudden, the bats go away. The pedal comes off, and now we’re in cruise mode, and now they start creeping back. Today, we didn’t do that. They did get three—luckily, it took them till the seventh inning.”
The win bumped the Nor’easters to 11-3. “We’ve been on a pretty good roll,” Ouimet said. “I think that’s our eighth win in a row…We’re sitting on top right now. Hopefully we can just keep it going.”
A number of Patriots were absent from the dugout on Sunday, perhaps to the team’s disadvantage. But rosters in the GNCBL are trim by design, too. “We want to keep the rosters tight,” Abramson said, “so that the kids who are playing are playing all the time, they’re getting better. So when we miss one or two key players, it does affect us.”
“But hey, look,” Abramson said, “we still have to hit the ball. We still have to play.”
The GNCBL plays seven-inning games on Tuesdays and Thursdays and nine-inning games on Sundays. The outfit is online at www.gncbl.net; they’re on Twitter at @GNCBLBaseball, and they’re easily searchable on Facebook.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Patriots shortstop Drew Abramson fields a grounder in the team’s loss to the Nor’easters.
The Nor’easters’ Luke Klenda (Yarmouth, St. Joe’s) pitched a no-hitter in his time on the mound against the Patriots. Klenda came out midway through the game, however, because the GNCBL is primarily developmental, and other pitchers were due to throw.