By Carl Pepin
NEW GLOUCESTER (Aug 8, 2007): It looked like they were going to the Senior League World Series. Monday's "victory" parade through town for the returning New Gloucester Senior League all-star baseball team was every bit as warm and genuine as it would have been had they actually won the East regional tournament they participated in last week in West Deptford, N. J.
The Maine state champions in the 14-16 age group were rudely sent packing after just two games and two straight losses, but that doesn't tell the entire story for this young bunch of athletes.
The New Gloucester squad lacked the experience the other 10 regional all-star teams had. "We had the youngest team in the regional tournament," said head coach Rick Ordway, who noted that his team included just two 16-year-olds on their roster whereas most other teams at the New Jersey venue were entirely made up of 16-year-olds.
New Gloucester opened the 11-team tourney with an 11-6 loss to the Oak Valley Senior League team from New Jersey on the night of Friday, August 3. The fact that the game was played at night was a bit unnerving for the Maine contingent and the fact that New Gloucester had only played one game under the lights all season long made it stressful for everyone involved.
"We lost three balls in the lights in the same inning," said Ordway explaining that he thought his club was a better team than Oak Valley.
Joe Billings pitched into the sixth inning of that game with Sam Mason coming on in relief.
New Gloucester then sent 14-year-old Taylor Velante to the mound on Sunday when they faced a solid Connecticut team. And although they out hit their fellow New Englanders, the Maine champs lost by a very misleading 17-5 score to get eliminated from further tourney play.
"(The folks in New Jersey) said this was the best Maine team that's been there in years," Ordway said. "The team played well."
And despite the quick exit from the tourney, Ordway and his players wouldn't trade their summer success and their trip to the regional for anything.
"It was awesome. They had a fantastic time and it was a great experience for them," said Ordway.
Team members include: Drew Densmore, Joe Billings, Sam Mason, Taylor Valente, Thomas Rich, Jordan Chase, Tyler Seliga, Chris Norton, Jesse Ordway, Shayne Curtis, and Trevor McCutcheon. Coaches: Rick Ordway, Torry Valente and Don Densmore.