It has been a pretty good senior year of athletic competition for Brewer High School’s Eric White.
During the winter, White’s goaltending played a pivotal role as the Witches won the Class B hockey state championship.
This spring, those same skills are coming in handy at third base, where White has been a defensive stalwart in leading the Brewer baseball team to Tuesday’s 5 p.m. Eastern Maine Class A final against Oxford Hills to be played at Morton Field in Augusta.
That defensive prowess typically shows itself two or three times a game, when his quick reaction time, soft hands and strong throwing arm turn would-be base hits into almost routine outs.
“His goalie instincts, you just can’t say enough about them,” said Brewer coach Dana Corey. “The game just slows down for him, it really does. He can make a play and then recognize that he’s got plenty of time to make the throw and then he makes the throw he has to make.”
White came up big on two consecutive defensive plays for Brewer during its 2-0 victory over previously unbeaten Bangor in Saturday’s regional semifinal at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
White ended the Bangor sixth by diving to his left to rob Kyle Savage of a base hit, then opened the seventh by reaching up to stab a hard-hit line drive by Adam King out of the air before it had a chance to reach left field.
White also started a 5-4-3 double play — relatively rare in high school circles — in the second inning after Bangor put its leadoff batter on base.
“Every day I come out and I know I can play defense,” said White. “I’m not always going to get hits every day. I can’t always produce offensively, but I can play defense every day. That’s something I have to do to help the team.”
White, who plans to attend the University of Maine in the fall and join the Black Bears’ baseball team, also is one of the more feared hitters in Eastern Maine, likely the leading factor in his selection as a finalist for the Dr. John W. Winkin Award symbolic of the state’s Mr. Baseball.
But he will be one of two Mr. Baseball finalists on the field when fourth-ranked Brewer (14-4) and third-seeded Oxford Hills (16-2) meet for the regional title, as the hard-hitting Vikings are led by UMaine-bound senior catcher Matt Verrier.
Yet the Witches know they are capable of beating Oxford Hills — they already have, using three unearned runs to earn a 3-1 victory at South Paris on May 12.
White hit a triple, two doubles and a single and scored both runs to pace Brewer to that win, which also marked Oxford Hills’ first loss of the season after a 7-0 start.
“We scored on two balks and a sacrifice fly,” said Corey. “We put the ball in play, and the game coming up could be exactly like [the semifinal against Bangor].
“They’ve got more power than we have, definitely. They’re a good hitting ballclub, and of course they’ve got a D1 catcher, which means we’ve got to make sure we choose our spots right, put pressure on, and do everything we can because we’re basically a small-ball team. We’ll go with pitching, defense and small ball and hopefully things will work out.”
Brewer is expected to send unbeaten junior Kyle McLain (7-0) to the mound against the Vikings. McLain got the win in the earlier meeting at Oxford Hills, allowing three hits over the first six innings with seven strikeouts and three walks before Tyler Desjardins came on in the seventh to earn the save.
“Both teams struggled hitting in that game,” said Brewer senior outfielder Jordan Richards. “The pitchers were unbelievable, and they had a big field, too, so it was kind of tough to get things going.
“It will be a defensive struggle and pitching matchup again Tuesday.”