ORONO — Forgive Luke Morrill for being the competitive type, but he couldn’t help but think back to a year ago when he took to the pitching mound for Friday night’s Larry K. Mahaney Baseball Classic at Mahaney Diamond.
“Last year was kind of an embarrassment for the East, we got creamed pretty bad,” said the recently graduated Rockland District High School star, referring to the 2010 East-West Underclass baseball game won by the West. “So it was nice to return the favor this year.”
Morrill pitched a scoreless top of the first inning, then drove home a run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to help the East gain some revenge with a 10-3 victory over the West in this annual battle of the state’s top senior all-stars.
For Morrill and several others on the field, including newly crowned Mr. Baseball Sam Balzano of Deering High School of Portland and Scott Heath, the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year from Westbrook High School, the contest also marked a chance to play on the field they will call home for the next four years when they join the University of Maine baseball program.
“I can’t wait,” said Morrill, who led Rockland to a postseason berth in its final season before the school merges with neighboring Georges Valley of Thomaston this summer to form Oceanside High School. “I know I’ve got a lot to learn and I know (Maine) coach (Steve) Trimper’s going to do a lot for me as well as the whole coaching staff, and I can’t wait to get up here and start working hard to try and earn my spot.”
While most of the participants in this game will continue playing baseball at the collegiate level, for others — like Cody Veilleux of Hermon — this marked their final outing.
Veilleux will attend the University of Maine this fall, but does not plan to play baseball.
“I kind of knew it was going to be my last game,” said Veilleux, a pitcher who led Hermon to the Eastern B semifinals this spring. “It was fun, a good way to end it.”
Veilleux pitched a hitless seventh inning after the East had built an 8-1 lead.
“It was a good opportunity, and it was pretty fun to get to play with these guys,” he said. “There were a lot of good ballplayers out there.”
Veilleux, who is not playing American Legion baseball this summer, hadn’t pitched since Hermon lost to Bucksport in its final playoff game to wrap up a 13-6 season.
“I thought I was going to get lit up, I was surprised at how well I did,” said Veilleux. “I hadn’t pitched for two weeks since our last game against Bucksport. My arm felt fine, but it will probably be sore tomorrow.”
Back-to-back singles by Luke Duncklee of Cony of Augusta and Kyle Bishop of Waterville opened the East’s first-inning rally against West starter Joey Royer of Cheverus of Portland.
Duncklee and Bishop then combined on a double steal before Duncklee scored on a groundout by Mekae Hyde of Lewiston and Bishop scored on Morrill’s sacrifice fly.
The East then scored four runs in the second, with Duncklee and Bishop each hitting an RBI single to spark that rally.
Sean Murphy of Westbrook hit an RBI single in the top of the third to cut the West’ deficit to 6-1, but the East added two more runs in the fifth thanks in part to five walks — one a bases-loaded free pass to Nick Kane of George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill.
The West got that run back on a bases-loaded walk to Cape Elizabeth’s Cam Brown in the top of the eighth, but Hyde hit a two-run triple in the bottom of the inning after Cody Miller of Hampden Academy had doubled and moved to third on a ground single to right by Jordan Carter of Ellsworth.
West 001 000 011—3-10-3
East 240 020 02x—10-11-4
Morrill, Stanevicz (2), Hammond (3), Sullivan (4), Neal (5), Eldridge (6), Veilleux (7), Duncklee (8), Harris (9) and Hyde, Morris (4), Carter (7); Royer, Mancini (3), Fenstermacher (5), MacDonald (6), Reilly (7), Richards (8) and Lops, Danielson (4), Lamb (7)