That the Rockland High baseball team landed a spot in this year’s Division 3 South tournament was remarkable enough. The last time that happened was 2012.
But that this year’s edition, a mediocre 6-9 as of May 18, accomplished that feat by reeling off five straight wins made the milestone sweeter still.
Crucial to the late surge were seniors Sam Gray and Aiden Glennon, the team’s top two hurlers, who put up big numbers at the plate as well and also helped captain the team.
As high school baseball captains go, says their coach, Gray and Glennon are all that their teammates could wish for.
The two are “the first on the field and the last ones to leave,” said first-year coach Mike Doyle. “They truly lead by example and perform well on offense and defense. Their teammates feed off them down the stretch. And they are my two aces on the mound. They always want the ball and always pitch their hearts out.”
Sharing captains’ duties with fellow seniors Gavyn White and Jonathan Baar, the duo took their responsibilities seriously.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity,” said Gray. “I know my teammates wanted good leaders to help the team succeed, and so the other captains and I gave it our all in the captain position this year. Everyone was just so great. My teammates all listened and performed well on the field.”
“Teams do not have great success if they don’t have great leaders,” said Glennon. “So, we had to really look out for one another and take the captain role in high regards.”
Gray and Glennon had their most successful runs this year and couldn’t have asked for a better way to wrap up their high school careers.
The seniors were driving forces for the veteran squad, which had eight returning seniors this season.
Seventeen-year-old Gray, the staff ace, was at the top of his game during the season’s home stretch. The 6-foot-2 righthander had gotten off to a subpar start, posting an 0-3 record in the early going, but he came back with a vengeance, using his three-pitch arsenal — fastball, curveball, changeup — to full effect as he reeled off wins in his last four games. He finished the year with a 4-3 mark, 57 strikeouts, a save, and a minuscule 1.65 ERA.
The 6-foot-6 Glennon, 18, a righty hurler as well, duplicated Gray’s 4-3 mark and chalked up 39 strikeouts on the mound.
They duo prepared for the spring season with constant practice and by playing elsewhere in the offseason. Gray played club ball last summer and fall with the East Cobb New England Expos, and Glennon played legion ball with Rockland Legion.
But the duo have something of a cardinal rule that they say has been crucial to their success in big games: getting properly hydrated beforehand.
“The number one rule is to drink a lot of water the night and day prior to a start,” said Glennon. “There are not many times where I’m sweating more than I sweat on the mound. It is essential to drink water before pitching.”
“I usually find out I’m pitching the night before the game,” said Gray. “And when I find out I immediately drink a ton of water. It is the key for a successful performance. I really don’t want to cramp up when I’m pitching so I stay hydrated and make sure I stretch properly as well.”
At the plate, they lead by example. Gray batted .328 with 19 hits and 12 RBIs, while Glennon batted .277 with 18 hits, a homer, and 18 RBIs.
Infielder Gavyn White, who led the team offensively with a .379 average, played with Gray and Glennon on the varsity for three years and called the pitchers key components.
“They are role models to the team,” said White. “They were our star pitchers in the regular season and got us through every game we won.”
Their performances this season helped the veteran squad land a spot in the Division 3 South tournament, which was set to begin Thursday.
Glennon was ecstatic that his team went so far this season. He is a three-sport athlete; he also plays golf and basketball. And those two teams made tournament appearances this year as well.
To cap off his senior year with a tournament spot in baseball is a dream come true, he said.
“It was super exciting year,” said Glennon. “It’s something that I can be proud of and worked hard towards. This my first time in the postseason for each of the three sports. It was a great senior year.”
Glennon was no slouch in the classroom, either, being named a National Honor Society student and accumulating one of the top five GPAs in his graduating class. He will be heading to the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute to study engineering and will be playing on their basketball team next year.
Gray will next be pitching for Bridgton Academy in Maine, and wants to stick with baseball for years to come.
“It’s a dream come true to continue my baseball career after high school,” said Gray. “Years down the line I would love to coach. I just always want baseball to be a crucial part of my life.”Andrew Higginbottom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.