Pictured: Old Lyme catcher Carter McGlinchey, flanked by head coach Phil Cohen (left) and starting pitcher Jordan Hanes after a 10-6 win at Portland, had a birthday to remember Tuesday.

By Paul Augeri

PORTLAND – Best birthday yet?

The question put Old Lyme catcher Carter McGlinchey on the spot, but he did not hesitate.

“Nothing beats this,” he said.

McGlinchey turned a ripe-old 16 on Tuesday. Anyone in earshot of the Wildcats’ dugout knew this, because with each McGlinchey at-bat came the giddy reminder that he was (young) man of the hour.

From the 6-spot in Old Lyme’s lineup, the sophomore reached base four times, drove in four runs, scored twice and caught a pretty good game from senior left-hander Jordan Hanes to lead the Wildcats’ to a 10-6 Shoreline Conference win over Portland.

“A lot of luck today, maybe because it’s my birthday” was McGlinchey’s modest evaluation of his all-around contributions to Old Lyme’s fourth straight win. “I don’t know. But a lot of energy came from the dugout. It was just really fun and a great atmosphere for sure.”

Jordan Hanes and catcher Carter McGlinchey were in lockstep in Old Lyme’s win over Portland.

Two years ago, Wildcats coach Phil Cohen watched McGlinchey play in middle school and thought he could provide immediate help to the 2023 Old Lyme team. Instead, McGlinchey wanted to play golf.

“I totally respected his decision and didn’t want to put any pressure on him,” said Cohen. Somewhere along the line, McGlinchey chose to commit to a return to baseball this spring.

“Carter is an interesting story,” Cohen said. “He was a force this winter on the hockey team as a starting defenseman (with the state runner-up East Haven co-op team) and I said, ‘Hey, whatever you did at hockey we need you to bring that same mindset and mentality to the baseball field.’ And he’s really responded for us and delivered, especially knowing he took a year off (from baseball).

“It speaks to the kind of kid and competitor he is. He’s not one that says much. We ask him to do something and he says, ‘Yes, coach,’ and does it. He learns. He’s a machine. We appreciate having him here and he’s fully in for baseball right now.”

McGlinchey’s first RBI hit for Old Lyme (4-1), a pop-fly single to shallow right field, capped a five-run inning before Portland (2-1) had a chance to bat. Rowen Meisner and Gio Winters also drove in a run each in what proved to be the only inning the Highlanders would get out of starter Yanel Rivera.

But Portland responded in the bottom of the first with three runs, with Gerry Hall and Kenneth Rodriguez producing run-scoring singles. Portland was poised for more, but Old Lyme got the third out a 9-3 relay to McGlinchey.

“I always have trust in my guys whether I’m pitching or playing the outfield,” said Hanes, who pitched five innings in his second start this season. “That was definitely a big play for us. It got the sparks going for us on offense. It was able to feed us with some good energy and good vibes in the dugout.”

Old Lyme added to its lead in the third inning. Rowen Meisner led off with a walk against Portland reliever Hall and scored on Hanes’ stand-up triple to deep right. McGlinchey plated him with a sharp single to left.

The Wildcats essentially put the game out of reach in the fifth with more production from the middle of the lineup. Meisner led off with a double and advanced to third on Hanes’ third hit of the day. McGlinchey drove in both with a double to the gap in left-center. He scored on Gio Winters’ double to left field for a 10-3 advantage.

Portland tagged Hanes for three runs (two earned) in his final inning of work. The first scored on a wild pitch, the second on Bryce Walsh’s double and the third on Aaron Ciarleglio’s sacrifice fly.

“I felt good,” said Hanes. “Coming off last season as a reliever, it’s tough throwing 90-plus pitches consecutively. I thought my command was good and I trusted my guys behind me to make plays. I was lucky enough to get the win today.”

While the Highlanders are a young team, with just two seniors (Josh Hanna and Ryan LaPila) and two juniors (Rivera and Zach Dickson) in the starting lineup, they made a heck of a go at the lead after cutting the deficit to four.

In the sixth, Portland loaded the bases against reliever Ben Frazier from two walks and a hit batter. But a laser off the bat of freshman Connor Doyle in his first varsity plate appearance was snared by Jack Porter in center field.

In the seventh, the Highlanders had a runner on with one out, but shortstop Grady Lacourciere turned a 6-3 double play on Rivera’s sharp grounder to end it.

Meisner reached base four times, had two hits, drove in one run and scored three. Hanes had three hits, drove in a run and also scored three times.

Portland had seven hits and left nine men on base. Hanna reached base four times and scored two runs; Walsh was 2 for 4; and Hall scored twice. Hanna also made two superlative catches in center field.

“It’s the first time that we had had adversity,” longtime coach Rick Borg said. “Offensively we swung the bats well, but it’s a lot of little things we didn’t do well, which you kind of overlook when you’re winning games 16-6 (vs. Coginchaug) and 10-2 (vs. Hale-Ray). You don’t realize there are a lot of little things in baseball that are going to haunt you in close games.”

“We’ll be fine. They’re one of the better teams in the Shoreline.”

Hanes looked at his two starts to date and noted that Frazier has been the common denominator.

“Carter’s a cat back there,” he said. “He’s always ready to make a big play. He’s not afraid of the big moment. He’s caught me in both starts this year and I think our chemistry has been something special.”

Old Lyme 10, Portland 6

Old Lyme…502 030 0–10 8 3
Portland…..300 030 3–6 7 2

Old Lyme: Jordan Hanes, Ben Frazier (6) and Carter McGlinchey.
Portland: Yandel Rivera, Gerry Hall (2), Binezewski (5), Aaron Ciarleglio (7) and Ethan Wells.
WP: Hanes; LP: Rivera
Records: Old Lyme 4-1; Portland 2-1.

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