STANDISH — A season fueled by previous disappointment ended in celebration for the Moosehead Lake region Saturday, as Greenville won its first state championship in any boys sport in 21 years with a 17-3, five-inning victory over Katahdin of Stacyville in the Class D baseball final at Saint Joseph’s College.
The Lakers (15-2) jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead and continued to capitalize on wildness by Katahdin pitchers to break the game open with 10 runs on just five hits in the bottom of the third.
“We expected it to be close from the beginning, but this is far better than anything we could have expected,” said Greenville senior third baseman Kevin Stafford. “I think we were just seeing the ball really well and we were doing a good job of being patient at the plate and making them come to us with strikes.”
Greenville had eight hits in the contest but also took advantage of 12 walks, two hit batters and three Katahdin errors to end the game under the mercy rule and earn its first state crown since the 1990 Lakers’ baseball team won it all representing Eastern Maine.
“I told the kids after the game that I played in a lot of big games in college,” said third-year Greenville coach Tyler Muzzy, a 2002 graduate of the school who went on to play basketball at Husson University in Bangor. “But this is the most gratifying win I’ve ever had in my life.”
The win also erased some of the memories of the team’s loss to Richmond in the 2010 Western D final, when Greenville took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh but lost when the Bobcats scored two runs on a suicide squeeze bunt.
“That was such a huge motivator,” said Greenville senior third baseman Anthony DiAngelo. “It was probably beneficial for us this year, because I’m not sure we would have had the same motivation had we not lost that game last year, but it really carried over into this season.”
Senior lefthander Jeremy St. Louis earned the pitching win against Katahdin, scattering four hits while striking out five batters and walking no one.
“Katahdin’s a good hitting team,” said St. Louis, “so I just tried with the fastball to keep everything outside and then come in with the curveball that breaks into their body to try to confuse them and make it harder for them to hit.”
Junior outfielder Chris Munro, seeing his first action since suffering a broken jaw while throwing batting practice midway through the season, singled twice, scored twice and drove home three runs from the leadoff spot in the Greenville batting order.
“It was great to be able to come back and to be part of such a great team performance in such a big game,” said Munro. “They gave me a chance to come back to play in this game, so I had to do my best to do my part.”
Munro was the Lakers’ lone repeat hitter, but freshman outfielder Matt DiAngelo had three RBIs and Anthony DiAngelo, Shawn Mills and Tristan Richards drove in two runs each.
Katahdin’s first appearance in the state final since 2008 was a struggle, in part because the Cougars’ Eastern Maine final against Bangor Christian was postponed from Tuesday until Wednesday, meaning pitching ace Brandon Robinson — who threw a complete game in the 2-1, nine-inning win for the regional title — was unavailable for the state game.
“We had a great season,” said Katahdin coach Marty McCarthy. “It was just a bad time to have our worst game. I don’t know if it was the bus ride or the high mound, but I just couldn’t find anybody to throw strikes.”
Katahdin pitchers hit two batters and issued three walks — all with the bases loaded — in the bottom of the first to stake Greenville to a 3-0 lead.
Katahdin (14-4) countered with two runs in the top of the second thanks to Greenville’s only two errors of the game and an RBI single to left-center by Spencer Anderson.
But Munro walked and scored on a sacrifice fly by Anthony DiAngelo in the Greenville second, and the Lakers then sent 15 batters to the plate in the third to put the game away. Munro drove home three runs during the uprising with two singles, while Richards added an RBI double and Anthony DiAngelo singled home a run.
“We knew if we came out and had a couple of solid innings at the beginning that we might be able to jump on them,” said DiAngelo. “That’s what we did. We had a solid first inning, and they came back with an answer, but we kept coming at them.”