Cony’s Isaac Gammon slides into home around Gardiner catcher Kyle Adams on Wednesday in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

GARDINER — Hopes were high at the start of the season for the Cony baseball team. And just in the nick of time, those hopes are starting to return for the Rams.

The latest reason for optimism occurred Wednesday, when Cony beat Gardiner in the regular season finale, 7-2. The victory lifted the Rams to 8-8, gave them their third win in their last four games, and fortified the confidence among the coaches and players that the team hasn’t yet played its best baseball.

“It’s really helped us. We’ve just been focused on cleaning up our games lately, and the past three games we’ve done that,” said senior pitcher Bobby Stolt, who threw a complete game while allowing no earned runs and striking out eight. “We’re just a lot more focused on the playoffs. We realize the regular season doesn’t really matter, and our real season starts (now).”

Isaac Gammon had three hits and two runs for Cony, while Kyle Douin had an RBI triple and scored twice and Eli Bezanson, Kris Hinkley (two hits), James Presti and Brayden Barbeau (triple) all drove in runs. Drew Kelley (triple, run) and Casey Paul had two hits apiece for Gardiner (6-10), and Noah Reed struck out five in 5.1 scoreless innings of relief.

With a senior core that was playing together for the first time since leading Cony to the A North quarterfinals two years ago, there was reason to believe the Rams would be a top team in the region this season. Multiple cases of COVID-19 and a pair of shutdowns hindered the team, however, and Cony languished below .500 for most of the season.

After a 7-1 loss to Mt. Blue, however, the Rams regrouped to beat Skowhegan, Lawrence and then Gardiner Wednesday.


Cony’s James Presti runs to second as Gardiner’s Noah Reed can’t contain a line drive at second Wednesday in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“We kind of hit the reset button after we lost to Mt. Blue,” coach Don Plourde said. “We’re moving in the right direction. … You always hear that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. That’s how we look at it.”

“It really does (build momentum). We’ve been working as a team, getting hits, one-pitch focus, staying together as a team,” Gammon said. “We came back, worked our butts off, and that’s all you can expect to do. … These past two games that we’ve played, we’ve played great as a team.”

The Rams started fast on Wednesday. Gammon singled to lead off the game, Douin tripled to deep right, and Bezanson had a sacrifice fly to left to make it 2-0. Cony followed with a five-run second inning for a 7-0 lead, doing all of the damage with two outs. Gammon again got things started with a single, and Hinkley and Presti had RBI singles while Barbeau had a run-scoring triple.

“The one thing I challenged the guys with was two-out hitting,” Plourde said. “We left 11 guys on base yesterday (in a 4-1 win over Lawrence), so that was the challenge at the beginning of the game.”

Gardiner coach Charlie Lawrence said he didn’t like how his team started the game.

“We were flat,” he said. “We didn’t come with the same energy we normally do.”


Cony High School baseball coach Don Plourde, left, directs Wednesday June 2, 2021 runners to the plate during a game against Gardiner Area High School in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The Tigers had trouble climbing back into the game against Stolt. They had seven hits but couldn’t deliver with runners on base, leaving men on in five of the last six innings, and Stolt needed 98 pitches to finish the job.

“I was just focused on getting ahead of counts,” he said. “Just starting with a first-pitch strike and staying ahead. As long as I had command and could spot my pitches, I was fine. My arm felt great all day today.”

Gardiner got runs from Kelley and Kyle Adams in the third. The Tigers will likewise head to the postseason looking to rediscover the form that allowed them to become a contender despite an 0-4 start.

“If we have to play small ball, we’ll play small ball. If we have to come up with a big hit, we’ll find a way to get it,” Lawrence said. “All you can do is work at it.”

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