BANGOR, Maine — It was an ending so abrupt Wednesday night that for a moment no one quite knew how to react.
Only after Peter Dickinson arose from the cloud of dust at home plate to an onrushing mob of celebrating teammates did he know that he had scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth as George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill outlasted Orono 1-0 in the Eastern Maine Class C baseball final at Mansfield Stadium.
Dickinson ripped a 1-0 fastball from Orono righthander Kirk Francis to deep right-center field and figured it was good for a triple — until he saw head coach Dan Kane waving him home from the third-base coach’s box.
“Peter’s got great wheels, so I knew if it got over his head it was going to be a triple,” said Kane. “I knew that, and on the relay I was looking for any kind of bobble, and the bobble came so without a doubt we’re sending him.”
Dickinson kept running, and while the subsequent slide wasn’t necessary because the ball was bobbled in the outfield, it represented the ultimate in sudden victories for the Eagles.
“I knew where the ball was hit, and I knew I had at least a triple,” said Dickinson, “but coach had faith in me and I knew I could get there and I gritted my teeth.
“Actually, when I slid and heard everyone yell, I had no idea what had just happened, I had no idea we had just won the game.”
Sudden victory for GSA translated into sudden defeat for a gritty Orono team that entered postseason play seeded seventh.
“Here we are in the game, two Goliaths going toe to toe,” said Orono coach Don Joseph, “and then all of a sudden there’s one shot and it’s ‘boys, it’s all over, line up, we’ve got to shake hands.’ What just happened? Guys are stunned, they’re wondering if it’s the seventh inning or the eighth inning and if we still have one more shot. It’s tough to let the air out of the balloon that quickly.”
The win gave top-ranked George Stevens its fifth Eastern Maine title of the decade, but first since 2005. The Eagles (16-3) will play Western C champion Saint Dominic of Auburn for the state title at 2 p.m. Saturday at Mansfield Stadium.
Orono finishes 11-9.
While Dickinson ended the game suddenly, he dominated it throughout from the mound.
The senior righthander relied primarily on his fastball while striking out 17 batters and walking just during a complete-game two-hit masterpiece. Only three balls left the infield against Dickinson, one a one-out triple to left center by Kash Keezer in the top of the fifth.
But Keezer was stranded at third, as Dickinson struck out both Anthony Cyr and Jacob Stoddard to end the inning.
No other runner got past first base against Dickinson — who was coming off a five-inning no-hitter against Madawaska in the semifinals.
“Some days his curve ball is not as sharp as other days,” said Kane, “and he’s got a nice two-seam fastball that really runs so today we used that a lot and they really had a hard time with it.”
Dickinson needed to be at his best, because Francis virtually matched him for seven innings.
The senior righthander struck out 12 and walked three — one intentionally — while scattering five hits, all to the top three batters in the GSA lineup.
But while Dickinson overpowered the Red Riots, Francis relied more on finesse with nearly equal success.
“They’re a great team, we just had to keep them off balance, and [catcher] Brandon [LeVasseur] did a good job of mixing the pitches,” said Francis.
George Stevens managed just a couple of threats against Francis over the first seven innings.
Cam Lawson hit a one-out double in the fourth but was thrown out at the plate on a single by Nick Saunders.
The Eagles then loaded the bases on an infield hit by Dickinson, an intentional walk to Saunders and a walk to Jesse Dow with two out in the sixth before Francis struck out Nick Kane to end the threat.
Dickinson would get one more crack at Francis in the eighth, and finally broke through.
“It was a fastball. I just left it over the plate,” said Francis of the game’s defining pitch. “I shouldn’t have given it to him. Brandon actually called a changeup, but I shook him off.”
The shot off Dickinson’s bat sailed beyond Cyr, the Orono center fielder, and by the time he fielded it Dickinson was headed toward third.
When the initial throw toward the infield wasn’t played perfectly, Dickinson scored.
“I was thinking when I went up there that the first fastball he threw I was jumping on it,” he said. “I knew instantly that it was going over [Cyr’s] head, and it really surprised me when my coach started waving me home. I’m glad he did.”
George Stevens Academy’s Peter Dickinson throws a pitch against Orono in the Eastern Maine Class C final Wednesday night at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. Dickinson allowed only one run, two hits and a walk while striking out 17 in eight innings to lead GSA by Orono 1-0.