STANDISH, Maine — It was a good school year for the boys athletic teams at Messalonskee of Oakland — a trip to postseason play in football, an Eastern Maine championship in soccer, and another regional championship in hockey.
Now with memories of graduation in the immediate background comes the crowning achievement, the Class A state title in baseball after the Eagles’ 6-3 victory over Scarborough at Saint Joseph’s College on Saturday.
There’s nothing like this,” said Messalonskee senior third baseman Travis St. Pierre after leading Messalonskee to its first baseball state championship since winning the Class B crown in 1973. “We got to states in hockey and we lost, and to finally pull off a state game is amazing.
“The feeling you get when you get that last out is awesome.”
This game was as much about defense as anything else — particularly the seven Scarborough errors that Messalonskee turned into six unearned runs.
“It’s baseball, we know we’re going to get breaks and they’re going to get breaks,” said Messalonskee senior shortstop Sam Dexter. “I know, and I think they know, that they didn’t play their best game today.”
While Scarborough struggled defensively, Messalonskee shook off two early errors to frustrate the Red Storm with some defensive gems.
Perhaps none was bigger than Dexter’s diving stop of a line drive by Scarborough’s Greg Viola bound for the shortstop hole in the bottom of the fourth that led to the Eagles’ second double play and denied the Red Storm having two runners aboard with no one out and the top of the order coming to the plate in a 4-2 game.
“I saw [Scarborough shortstop Joe] Cronin get some bad hops out there earlier and I just wanted to keep the ball in front of me,” said Dexter. “I knew it was a big spot in the game and I knew we were capable of making the double play after I got it and [Messalonskee second baseman] Jake [Dexter, Sam’s freshman brother] made a great throw to spin it.”
Coach Ray Bernier’s Eagles (15-5) also got two tough catches from right fielder Reid Nutter, the first in deep right toward the line to deny Ben Wessel a potential extra-base hit in the sixth inning and the second after a long run to the fence in foul territory to retire Ben Greenberg for the first out of the seventh.
“Reid’s not known for his fielding,” said Dexter, “but we have some extreme competitors out there and Reid is one of them.”
Sophomore righthander Devin Warren earned the pitching win, allowing just three hits while striking out five batters and walking three before getting seventh-inning relief help from Jake Dexter.
“I felt a little slow in the beginning,” said Warren. “But once I found my stuff it felt easier from there on out. My changeup and curveball were really effective, and if you switch them up on the batters it’s really hard to get the timing down so that’s what I tried to do the whole game.”
Greenberg, a sophomore righthander who returned to the Scarborough pitching rotation in the regional semifinals after sitting out several weeks with tendinitis, retired the first nine Messalonskee batters he faced.
But the second time around the order was a different story, though much of it not Greenberg’s fault.
Messalonskee combined its first three hits with three Scarborough errors for a four-run rally in the top of the fourth that erased an early 2-0 deficit.
Jake Dexter opened the inning with a sharp single to left, then took second as Sam Dexter reached on an infield error.
St. Pierre singled home Jake Dexter, then Sam Dexter scored the tying run as Warren’s fielder’s choice grounder was thrown away.
Nutter singled to center to drive home St. Pierre with the go-ahead run, then Warren scored on an errant pickoff throw by Greenberg.
“That inning when we threw the ball around like that I was in shock, but you can’t change it and that’s the great thing about sports,” said Scarborough coach Mike Coutts, whose team finished its season with a 17-3 record.
Messalonskee made the most of four more Scarborough errors to add two runs in the sixth, with Nutter and Zach Mathieu contributing RBI singles that extended the Eagles’ lead to 6-2.