BANGOR — Dylan Morris may have been the hardest-working baseball player in Eastern Maine last summer, catching an estimated 65 to 70 games between high school, Senior League and American Legion play.
And the resulting development in his individual game will be rewarded at yet the next level beginning this fall, when the Bangor High School senior joins the highly regarded baseball program at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.
“I’m really looking forward to playing there,” said Morris, who is undecided on an academic major but leaning toward criminology. “Coach [Ed] Flaherty is a great guy and they’ve got a great staff of coaches, and with all the players they’ve accumulated they’ve got an opportunity to make a good [postseason] run the next few years and I want to do my best to help out in any way I can.”
Morris, who will be Bangor High’s starting catcher for the third straight year when the regular season gets under way next month, is coming off a busy and productive 2010 season behind the plate.
After being replaced by a designated hitter for Bangor High’s first game last spring, Morris emerged as one of the team’s leading hitters while helping the Rams go undefeated during the regular season and advance to the Eastern Maine Class A playoffs before being upended by Brewer.
Then during the summer he batted .486 with 18 RBIs while throwing out more than 50 percent of would-be base stealers from behind the plate in helping the Bangor Comrades — coached by his father, Dave Morris — advance to the American Legion state tournament.
At the same time, he also caught for the Bangor Senior League all-stars, who advanced not only through the Maine District 3 tournament but to the championship game of the Senior League World Series before falling to Aruba 7-1.
“College coaches tell you to play as much as you can, and that’s what I did,” said Morris. “And with all the different pitchers I saw at the plate and all the different pitchers I caught, it definitely helped me.”
Morris’ development also can be traced to several other factors, including sheer growth.
“Physically I’ve gotten a lot bigger,” he said. “When I got to high school I was about 5-1, 135 pounds, and now I’m 6-2, 185, so I’ve gotten a lot stronger.”
He also credits the coaching he has received at all levels, particularly from his father, also a former Bangor High School catcher. David Morris was the longtime varsity and American Legion baseball coach at Brewer before returning to Bangor two years ago, first as an assistant with the Legion program and then as head Legion coach and assistant high school coach last summer.
“He’s really worked with me to develop my catching skills, and another thing he taught me was not to get too high or too low,” said Dylan.
Before he heads off to college, Morris would like to help Bangor earn another championship banner this spring to go with the state soccer and basketball titles won earlier this school year by manyof his baseball teammates.
“The soccer kids and the basketball kids already have won, but in football we lost in the state championship game so there are some of us who feel like we have some unfinished business,” he said.
Hampden, PI win Harbor House titles
Teams from Hampden, Presque Isle and the Winslow area emerged as champions at last weekend’s 19th annual Great Harbor House Shoot-out basketball tournament held in six gymnasiums on Mount Desert Island and in Ellsworth.
Hampden won the high school boys division by defeating defending champion Camden Hills 76-59 in the final played on Sunday evening. Logan Poirier led Hampden with 23 points while teammate Christian McCue contributed 19 points to the victory. Taylor Hall scored 20 points and Adam Carlsen 17 for Camden Hills.
Presque Isle won both the high school and junior high girls divisions. Meredith Stewart scored 22 points and Chandler Guerette had 16 as the Star City defeated Camden Hills 69-59 in the high school final, while Presque Isle also gained a 54-51 victory over Mount Desert Island in the junior high title game.
The Central Maine Explosion, based in the Winslow area, scored a 69-43 victory over Hampden in the junior high boys final.
The three-day tournament featured 74 teams participating in 131 games over 31 hours of competition in the four divisions, according to Scott Phelps, sports director at Harbor House, a nonprofit community service organization in Southwest Harbor that has staged the tournament since hosting a seven-team junior high event in 1992.