ORONO, Maine – Ryan Rebar has never met Dr. John Winkin, but the Foxcroft Academy senior will forever have a connection with the legendary college baseball coach.
Rebar, a pitcher and shortstop from Harmony, was named Friday evening as the 22nd recipient of the Dr. John W. Winkin Award, presented annually by the Maine Baseball Coaches Association to the state’s outstanding senior high school baseball player.
“I’m speechless right now,” said Rebar immediately after winning the “Mr. Baseball” award and just before participating in the Maine Senior All-Star Game at Mahaney Diamond on University of Maine campus — a game won by the West 7-3.
“It’s an honor to win an award [named after] Mr. Winkin.”
The 92-year-old Winkin — a former Colby College, UMaine and Husson University coach — was not in attendance for this year’s presentation.
Rebar was one of seven finalists for the award, along with Andrew Butler of Waynflete of Portland, Jordan Croteau of Oxford Hills of South Paris, Tom Fortier of Falmouth, Zach LaChance of Cony of Augusta, Jordan Morrow of Stearns of Millinocket and Jimmy Theriault of Saint Dominic of Auburn.
“I think every finalist thinks they have a shot to win it,” said Rebar, the first player from Foxcroft Academy to be named the state’s Mr. Baseball. “I honestly didn’t know what I was up against, but just to be nominated for the award is something special and to win it is something completely different. It’s a blessing, and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Rebar was a four-year starter at Foxcroft, leading coach Mark Chevalier’s Ponies to a berth in the Eastern Maine Class C championship game as a sophomore and to the Eastern Maine Class B title as a junior.
This spring Rebar went 6-1 on the mound with a 1.02 earned run average in 41 innings while batting .339 with nine doubles, 11 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in helping the Ponies compile a 15-3 record and advance to the Eastern B semifinals.
“I wish some of my teammates back home could share this with me because they’re a big reason I got this award,” said Rebar. We’ve been to Eastern Maines and to a state championship game. Foxcroft’s known for its baseball I’m just blessed and honored to be part of it.”
Foxcroft compiled a 63-12 overall record during the last four seasons, with Rebar starting every game either on the mound or in the infield.
“I couldn’t be happier that he won,” said Chevalier. “It’s great to see that other people have seen what I’ve been seeing from Ryan for the last four years.”
The hard-throwing Rebar compiled an 18-3 pitching record during his high school career, but says much of his improvement during the last four years has come in other areas of the game.
“Definitely in my younger years, I kind of struggled at the plate and I think I’ve done better in that regard,” said Rebar, who transferred to Foxcroft from neighboring Dexter midway through his freshman year. “And just overall in being a leader and a better person, I think that really showed this year.”
The Mr. Baseball Award caps off an impressive senior year athletically for Rebar. He was a first-team All-LTC choice in football as both a wide receiver and defensive back last fall while helping Foxcroft win the Class C state championship, then helped the Ponies’ basketball team advance to the Eastern B semifinals last winter.
This spring he was named the Penobscot Valley Conference’s Class B pitcher and player of the year.
“I think it’s every senior athlete’s dream to play all three sports and have success in them,” said Rebar. “I’ve been put in great positions by coaches and my teammates and I’m very thankful to them, I owe a lot to them.”
Rebar plans to continue his athletic career at Husson University where he’ll play both football and baseball and retain a connection with the Mr. Baseball award’s namesake — the Eagles’ home field on the Bangor campus is the Winkin Sports Complex.
“I can’t imagine that any kid has done any more to help his team win baseball games than Ryan’s done for us,” said Chevalier.
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Alex McLean, an outfielder from Marshwood High School in South Berwick, was the star of the senior all-star game, driving home three runs as the West never trailed in the contest.
The West broke a 0-0 tie by scoring four unearned runs after two were out in the top of the third inning, with McLean hitting a two-run single to left to cap off that rally.
McLean, who will continue his baseball career at Division III Curry College in Milton, Mass., added a two-out RBI single to right in the top of the fifth to drive home South Portland’s Nick Whitten, capping off a two-run uprising that extended the West’s lead to 6-0.
The East broke onto the scoreboard with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Hampden Academy’s Cooper Antone and Cony’s LaChance opened the inning with singles and Foxcroft’s Kaleb Smith walked before Antone scored on a passed ball and LaChance came across on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Each team added a single run in the sixth inning.