June 23, 2018
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Pitcher unfazed by delay, leads Waterville to Class B baseball title

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

STANDISH — Tim Locke was poised to pitch his team to a state championship Saturday — he certainly wasn’t going to let a 1-hour, 47-minute weather delay stop him.

Nor would he let Greely High School deny him and his Waterville teammates a second straight state title, as the senior righthander pitched a three-hit shutout to lead the Purple Panthers to a 1-0 victory in the Class B final at Saint Joseph’s College.

“I needed everything to work, that’s about all there is to it,” said Locke. “I knew my defense would make the plays behind me, so all I had to do was throw strikes.”

Waterville (18-2) becomes the first Class B team to win back-to-back state championships since Cape Elizabeth in 1990 and 1991. Greely, seeking its third state title in the last five years, ends its season at 16-4.

Locke threw 106 pitches, 63 for strikes in outdueling Greely righthander Mike Leeman. Locke, 8-0 this spring, struck out eight batters and walked four with an effective mix of fastballs and curves.

“Everything was working,” said Locke. “Coach was calling some good pitches from the dugout, [catcher] Aiden [Fitzgerald] was calling good pitches. It just happened.”

Locke was backed by an errorless defense that featured senior Mark Beckim. Beckim, making just his second start at shortstop for the sidelined Tyler Bouchard — who missed Waterville’s final two games due to illness but was in uniform Saturday — helped turn a key double play and made a charging play on a seventh-inning grounder by Dan McKersie to deny Greely one last threat.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” said Beckim, “but you can’t let it get to you, you’ve just got to play every pitch by pitch and wherever the ball goes, you go.”

Leeman (7-1) was nearly as good on the mound for Greely, scattering five hits while striking out five batters and walking three during a 108-pitch effort that included 69 strikes.

“I tried to throw strikes and shut them down,” said Leeman, a junior. “They’re a good team.

“I knew it was going to be low scoring, we’re both great teams, but we couldn’t score.”

After the lengthy weather delay in the bottom of the second inning, Waterville scratched out three consecutive singles to score the only run of the game in the top of the fourth.

Locke opened the inning with a hard ground single down the third-base line and off the glove of Greely third baseman Liam Maker. Kyle Bishop then singled through the shortstop hole, and Locke scored from second when Fitzgerald flared a 1-2 curveball to the opposite field for a single to right.

Fitzgerald was thrown out trying to get to second base on the throw home, and Leeman retired the next two batters to get out of the inning with minimal damage.

Greely had just two base-runners in the first three innings, but Locke picked Ben Shain off first base in the bottom of the first and pinch-runner Sean Ross was thrown out by Fitzgerald trying to steal second base in the third.

The Rangers threatened in the fourth, with Pete Stauber hitting a leadoff single to left and Matt Labbe drawing a two-out walk before Locke struck out Leeman to end the inning.

Beckim hit a leadoff double down the left-field line to open the top of the fifth, but was stranded at third base as Leeman retired the next three batters.

Greely threatened again in its half of the fifth, with Bailey Train hitting a single to the shortstop hole and McKersie being hit by a pitch to give the Rangers runners at first and second with no one out. But Jonah Normandeau then grounded to Waterville second baseman Cam Sawyer, who teamed with Beckim to turn a 4-6-3 double play before Locke struck out Brad McKenney to end the inning.

“I wasn’t thinking about the double play, I was just trying to get the out at second base,” Beckim said. “It wasn’t until I was going toward first that I thought about throwing it.”

Stauber led off the Greely sixth with a double to left-center, and was sacrificed to third by Maker before Ben Shain drew a one-out walk to put the go-ahead run aboard. Again Locke escaped, this time striking out Labbe before getting Leeman to ground out to Beckim for a force-out at second base.

Locke then retired Greely in order in the seventh inning.

“I felt better after the delay,” said Locke, who will play at Thomas College next year. “Starting out I felt OK, but with the delay I felt 10 times better.”

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