BANGOR — Calais High School righthander Adam Geel tossed an eight-hit complete game.
But his two pick-offs were just as important as they choked off a pair of late Penobscot Valley of Howland rallies and gave Calais a 4-3 win in the Eastern Maine Class C title game at Mansfield Stadium Tuesday night.
Third-seeded Calais, now 15-3, will take on 17-2 Dirigo of Dixfield in Saturday’s 5 p.m. state title game at Larry Mahaney Diamond on the Saint Joseph’s College campus in Standish.
It was Calais’ first Eastern Maine baseball championship since 1992.
Fourth seed Penobscot Valley, playing in its first ever Eastern Maine baseball championship game, wound up 13-6.
The Blue Devils were holding a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning and Penobscot Valley had the bases loaded and a 3-2 count on leadoff hitter Jake Jones, who had two hits, when Geel picked the runner off third for the final out.
“I knew all the runners were going on the pitch so, in that situation, I figured I might as well try it,” said Geel. “Instead of taking my left foot off the rubber to turn to go to the plate, I took my right foot off, creating a dead ball, and the runner took off.”
Geel eventually tagged him out.
In the seventh inning, with runners on first and second and one out, Geel wheeled and threw to second baseman Dylan Carter to pick off the runner at second.
“[Carter] gave me the eye [for the pick-off] and the runner wasn’t paying attention. He was looking around,” said Geel, who wheeled and fired to second. “Dylan and I have played together so much the last few years, about 50 or 60 games.”
“Adam has six pick-offs this year,” said Calais catcher Jeremy Carr.
“We got out of some big situations because of those pick-offs,” said Geel.
After the pick-off, Dylan Worster reached on an error before Geel induced a game-ending groundout on which shortstop Jeremy Beers made a strong throw to first from deep in the shortstop hole.
“He’s a good pitcher,” said PVHS coach Ernie Gerrish. “He doesn’t have a good pick-off move but he has a good way of disguising it. He turns and throws.”
Geel struck out three and walked two in his outing. He allowed eight singles. All three runs off him were earned.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I normally am but I wasn’t terrible. The big thing was the defense made a lot of big plays behind me,” said Geel, who threw 109 pitches including 71 strikes.
He mixed up his curve and slider well.
Beers had made a highlight-reel play in the third when he dove into the shortstop hole and then fired a strike to first to nail Worster.
“He was one of the best pitchers we faced all year,” said PVHS shortstop and co-captain Jake Jones. “He was tough. He threw pretty hard.”
Worster pitched very well in defeat, allowing nine hits and four runs, three earned, in six innings with six strikeouts and four walks.
“I was pretty happy with the way I pitched,” said Worster who had a live fastball and effective curve.
“He pitched a real good game,” said Geel.
PVHS took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Jones single, two groundouts and Worster’s sharp two-out single to center.
Calais tied it in the third on Carr’s single, his stolen base and Geel’s two-out single to left.
Calais took a 3-1 lead with two runs in the fourth on Josh Gillespie’s single and stolen base, Dylan Carter’s RBI single and Nathan Pike’s long two-out RBI double over left fielder Derrick Bellevance’s head.
“It was a fastball that came to me on the inside corner. I liked it and took a swing,” said Pike.
Jones singled home a run in the fifth to make it 3-2 but Calais answered in the bottom of the fifth when Beers singled and eventually scored on an infield overthrow to the plate after he had rounded third too far on a fielder’s choice.
PVHS loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and Adam Callender flared an RBI single to right with one out. But a strikeout and the pick-off enabled Geel to avoid any further damage.
The Blue Devils stole seven bases to fuel their offense.
“Four of us have at least 20 steals,” said Carr.
“We put a lot of pressure on teams with our running game. We steal a lot of bases,” said Beers.
“We got hits when we needed them,” said Calais coach Kenny Murphy.
Carr and Alex Barnett had two singles apiece for the winners with Jones, Worster and Callender having two apiece for PVHS.
“Calais played a good game. They got the hits when they needed them,” said PVHS coach Ernie Gerrish. “But I’m proud of our guys. Nobody expected us to be in the Eastern Maine finals.”