Despite a 3-6 start to its 2010 season, Deer Isle-Stonington stands as the only team still with a chance to repeat as an Eastern Maine baseball champion. The regional finals in Classes B, C and D are set to be contested Tuesday and Wednesday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Coach Darren Eaton’s Mariners (11-7) remain alive for their fourth Class D state title in six years, having already won it all in 2005, 2007 and last spring.
Fifth-seeded Deer Isle-Stonington faces No. 2 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill at 3 p.m. Wednesday in a matchup of teams that arrived at this championship opportunity in different ways.
Central Aroostook (15-3) has used a high-scoring offense to advance. During postseason play, coach Brent York’s Panthers have averaged 14.5 runs per outing in victories over No. 7 Machias (16-11 in the quarterfinals) and No. 3 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook (13-11 in the semis).
Deer Isle-Stonington, which played half of its regular-season schedule against Class C competition, has relied more on pitching and defense to defeat No. 4 Katahdin of Stacyville 7-4 in the quarters and Shead of Eastport 1-0 in Saturday’s semifinals.
Central Aroostook is seeking its first EM baseball title since 2003.
In Class B, No. 1 Waterville (17-1) and No. 2 Bucksport (14-4) square off at 7 p.m. Wednesday to replace two-time defending regional champion Gardiner, which was ousted in this year’s preliminary round by Winslow.
Both finalists were eliminated by Gardiner last spring, Bucksport in the semifinals and Waterville in the EM final.
Waterville was the popular choice to win the division this spring, and only a midseason 3-2 loss at Maranacook of Readfield prevented coach Don Sawyer’s club from bringing a perfect record into the final.
The Purple Panthers have yet to allow a run in postseason play, defeating No. 8 Winslow 11-0 in a six-inning quarterfinal before edging No. 5 Camden Hills of Rockport 2-0 in the semifinals thanks to a pair of first-inning runs.
Waterville is seeking its first Eastern Maine crown since winning in Class A in 2001.
Bucksport has emerged from a balanced Penobscot Valley Conference field to contend for its first regional crown since 2006.
Coach Mike Cowing’s Golden Bucks defeated 10th-seeded conference rival Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln 11-3 in the quarterfinals, then outlasted No. 6 John Bapst of Bangor, another PVC foe, 4-3 in eight innings in their semifinal.
In Class C, two programs far removed from the championship picture will attempt to fill the void left by perennial power George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill — which did not qualify for postseason play — as Eastern Maine champion.
No. 3 Calais last won the regional title in 1992, while No. 4 Penobscot Valley of Howland will be in search of its first-ever EM crown when the teams meet tonight at 7.
Penobscot Valley (13-5) hadn’t even won a postseason contest since 1988 before edging No. 5 Washington Academy of East Machias 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Pitching and defense continued to rule for coach Ernie Gerrish’s Howlers in Saturday’s semifinals as they edged No. 8 Orono 4-2.
While Penobscot Valley has a pair of two-run victories on its postseason resume, Calais (14-3) has won both of its playoff encounters to date by just one run.
Coach Kenny Murphy’s Blue Devils scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to edge No. 6 Searsport 1-0 in the quarterfinals, then scored the winning run in the top of the seventh of its semifinal to slip past No. 2 Stearns of Millinocket 8-7.