GSA returning to EM title contest

Posted June 14, 2009, at 10:44 p.m.

BLUE HILL, Maine — After four straight trips to the Class C state championship, the George Stevens Academy baseball team had experienced a bit of a drought the last three years.

So it was with a renewed sense of motivation that the Eagles, especially their seniors, started postseason play this season.

Two of those seniors in particular played key roles Saturday as top-ranked George Stevens eliminated No. 5 Madawaska 12-0 in a five-inning, mercy rule-shortened game.

Righthander Peter Dickinson dominated the game with a no-hitter — the first of his high school career — and classmate Nick Saunders gave him more than enough offense with a three-run, game-ending home run in the fifth and a triple for five total RBIs.

Dickinson pitched out of an early jam after walking two batters by striking out the other three he faced in the first inning, and went on to strike out nine batters while walking three.

“It was really about hitting my spots in the corners and I knew he [plate umpire Bob Curtis] was giving the low strikes,” said Dickinson, now 8-1. “Early on, I was struggling and getting the ball up, but I just attacked the zone and worked on hitting my spots.”

As a result, the 15-3 Eagles are now back in a familiar spot — in the Eastern Class C final against Orono on Wednesday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

“It means a lot. Last year was a real, real disappointment for all of us and as seniors, we want to be back,” said Saunders, who ended the game with a 375-foot homer in the bottom of the fifth.

“It was a first-pitch fastball. In all my at-bats, he’d been doing that and I wanted to just drive it to the outfield,” Saunders said. “We needed one run, so I just wanted to get it in.”

The pitch was a bit of a rarity from Madawaska starter Jonathan Lee, who fed the Eagles a steady diet of offspeed stuff.

“We got some scouting on George Stevens and as far as we were concerned, we weren’t going to be able to throw fastballs at them, so we kept throwing them the breaking stuff,” said head coach Vincent Varnier, whose Owls wind up 12-6. “Our game plan was to keep throwing junk at them all day and try to keep them off balance. We knew that was our only real shot at it.”

After failing to score despite drawing two walks in the first, the Owls had only one batter reach base the rest of the game as Shane Lizotte drew a one-out walk, stole second and then was stranded as Dickinson struck out the next two batters.

The Eagles started fast with two runs in the first courtesy of Saunders’ RBI triple to right-center and Jesse Dow’s RBI double down the left-field line. After adding another run in the second on Justin McGraw’s one-out RBI single to left, GSA scored twice more in the third on an RBI single by Nick Kane followed by a wild pitch and passed ball.

Kane added another RBI single in the fourth, but the Eagles broke things open in the fifth as a walk, two errors and a fielder’s choice scored two before Sunders ended it with his clout.

The Eagles also kept up the pressure on Madawaska with aggressive baserunning that produced 10 stolen bases.

“We try to be aggressive. If the team is going to give us something, we’re going to take it,” said GSA coach Dan Kane. “And offensively, we’ve been working all year on keeping our weight back and they did a nice job with that today, especially against the curveballs.”

Cameron Lawson had three singles and Kane had two.

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