BANGOR, Maine — The best way to prepare for the pressure of a championship game is to play in one.
With two regional titles already under their belts and senior Adam Geel on the mound, the Calais High baseball team was a confident bunch Tuesday night.
Geel pitched a three-hitter and the third-seeded Blue Devils scored four times in the fourth inning on their way to a 4-0 victory over No. 4 Dexter in the Eastern Maine Class C title game at Mansfield Stadium.
“The kids have a lot of confidence,” said Calais coach Kenny Murphy. “They’ve been there three years. This is like their second home,” he quipped.
Calais (18-1) advances to Saturday’s 4 p.m. state championship game against Western Maine winner Dirigo of Dixfield (18-1) at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. The Blue Devils are eager to make another run at a title.
“We’re not done,” said senior Dylan Carter. “No one was satisfied when we were up there [receiving the awards]. We want that state.”
Dexter, coached by Chad Graffam, closes out the season at 13-6.
Geel was the “X” factor for Calais. The right-hander, who improved to 10-0 this season, 30-4 in his high school career, and 3-0 in EM finals, was unfazed.
He allowed singles in the second, third and sixth innings after working around two first-inning errors. Geel struck out struck out four and did not walk a batter, throwing 91 pitches, 63 for strikes.
“Coming into tonight, I was pretty calm,” Geel said, “a little nervous before the game, but I knew our defense would take care of it and we’d get some runs.”
Dexter got only two runners into scoring position and appeared unable to get a good read on Geel, who mixed a lively fastball with a sharp slider.
“He’s just going to go after you and he’s just going to refuse to lose,” Graffam said.
Tigers junior Casey Jordan gave up only five hits, all of them singles. He used a nifty slider to register nine strikeouts and walked four, one intentionally.
Calais got to the righty in the fourth inning, when Jeremy Beers reached on a leadoff throwing error, advanced on a passed ball and took third on a strikeout pitch that bounced in the dirt.
The Tigers walked Geel intentionally, but he immediately stole second. Lewis Francis then walked to load the bases.
Carter and John Edwards followed with consecutive pop-fly singles that dropped behind the drawn-in middle infielders to make it 2-0.
“We’ve always been a rally team,” said Carter, who pointed out Calais has scored four runs in each of its EM title wins.
Nathan Pike walked to force in a run, before Jesse Clark grounded an RBI single through the middle to provide Geel with a four-run cushion.
“There’s only been a couple games where we’ve given that [many runs] up this year and I knew this wasn’t going to be one of them,” Geel said.
Jordan gave up only five hits, all of them singles, and fanned nine batters. He walked four, one intentionally.
Graffam praised his team, which has made a steady progression in recent years to contend for the championship.
“They’re champions to me, just because of what they’ve put into Dexter baseball to get to this point,” he said.
Two fielding errors gave the Tigers runners at first and second with one out in the first, but Dylan Graffam flied out deep to left-center and Geel induced an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
In the second, Brandon Spratt singled and stole second one out later, but Geel retired the next two batters.
Trevor Fogarty singled with one out in the third, but was thrown out trying to steal on a called third strike to Jordan.