AUGUSTA – The winning run had moved from second to third base, and the count on Riley Geyer was three balls and no strikes. The Cony sophomore looked down the third-base line at coach Don Plourde…and was surprised by what he saw.

“Coach just gave me the fist and gave me a grin,” Geyer said. “I’m like ‘Oh, does he want me to swing?’ ”

He did, and Geyer proved the call to be a good one, smacking the next pitch to right field for a single that scored Matt Wozniak with the winning run in a 3-2, nine-inning victory over Gardiner at Morton Field.

“They’ve got each other’s back, and they play for each other,” Plourde said. “That’s a good feeling,”

The Rams, who got nine strikeouts in seven innings from Kyle Douin, improved to 2-1. Gardiner, which got an excellent outing of its own from sophomore Noah Reed, fell to 0-4 after what was a disappointing defeat, but a far more encouraging sign from the young team than a 12-2 loss to Erskine the afternoon before.

“The Gardiner-Cony rivalry is always going to be there, no matter what sport. I looked at their faces in the huddle, and I saw that they were down,” coach Charlie Lawrence said. “They didn’t like losing, and I like that.”

Cony began the winning rally when Mitch McFarland and Bobby Stolt drew leadoff walks. Pitcher Casey Bourque followed with a strikeout, but fell behind Geyer as Wozniak (pinch-running for McFarland) swiped third on the third ball.

The situation was different. Now a well-hit ball in the air was all that was needed to win the game, and Plourde liked his chances with Geyer, the team’s leadoff hitter, at the plate.

“He’s looking for one pitch, something he can drive,” Plourde said. “I just like the way he’s been swinging the bat all spring. … I just knew if his pitch selection was good, he was going to do what he did.”

Nevertheless, the call came as a surprise to Geyer.

“I was kind of confused. Usually if it’s earlier the game, if it’s 3-0, you’re taking a pitch,” he said. “I thought (Bourque) was going to try to jam me or put me on, I don’t know. I was just kind of thinking ‘Drive it if it’s close.’ ”

It was, and Geyer’s hit was a clean single that scored Wozniak without a play.

“It’s a great feeling,” Geyer said.

And one of retribution, as Geyer, who also picked up the win in relief of Douin, made an error in the sixth that allowed Gardiner to tie the game at 2, and then missed on a chance to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh when he flew to shallow left with one out after Stolt had walked and advanced to third on a Mike Wozniak single.

“My mentality is, if I mess up, I’ve got to make up for it,” he said. “I think I did.”

For the first seven innings, the game was a pitchers’ duel between Douin and Reed. Douin, who threw a complete game to earn Cony’s first win, completed seven innings in 94 pitches while walking two and allowing five hits and two runs — none earned.

“Kyle pitched great again,” Plourde said.

Reed, meanwhile, matched him each step of the way, pitching 6.1 innings and allowing three hits and one earned run while fanning two.

“All four of those kids did well,” Lawrence said. “They were hitting their spots, they found where the (umpires) liked the strikes. They did very well, for both teams.”

Gardiner struck first, going up 1-0 in the third when Logan Grover singled and tried to advance to third on Kyle Adams’s grounder back to the mound. Douin’s throw to third was wild, allowing Grover to come home and the Tigers to take the lead.

Cony responded in the bottom half when Stolt singled, advanced on a walk and groundout and came home on a two-out error. The Rams went up 2-1 in the fourth when Dakota Andow singled, stole second and went to third on Mike Boivin’s infield single, and then came home on a balk.

Gardiner pulled even in the sixth when Gammon doubled to right and then tried to move up after Drew Kelley grounded to third. Geyer tried to throw him out for the double play, but the throw skidded by and Gammon was able to come in.

There wasn’t another rally in store. But after the drubbing at Erskine in which his team made seven errors, Lawrence knew he had seen an effort that was more indicative of what Gardiner can be this season.

“They were heads-up, they were positive, they did a lot of great things out there,” he said. “I’m very proud of them today. They could have come in really down after yesterday’s performance, but they didn’t. We put it behind us.”

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