Traditional powers, newcomers alike seek baseball state titles

Posted June 20, 2014, at 11:44 a.m.
Bangor's Justin Courtney unloads a pitch against Messalonskee High School at the Class A Eastern Maine final at Morton Field in Augusta Tuesday afternoon. Bangor won 6-3.
Terry Farren | BDN
Bangor's Justin Courtney unloads a pitch against Messalonskee High School at the Class A Eastern Maine final at Morton Field in Augusta Tuesday afternoon. Bangor won 6-3.
Caribou's Mason Huck (11) celebrates with teammate Dylan Berkoski (7) after scoring a run in the sixth inning of their Eastern Maine Class B championship against Old Town at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor, Maine, Wed., June 18, 2014. Caribou won 4-3 in 10 innings.
Michael C. York | BDN
Caribou's Mason Huck (11) celebrates with teammate Dylan Berkoski (7) after scoring a run in the sixth inning of their Eastern Maine Class B championship against Old Town at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor, Maine, Wed., June 18, 2014. Caribou won 4-3 in 10 innings. Buy Photo
Washington Academy's Gage Feeney pitches to George Stevens Academy during their Eastern Maine Class C baseball final at Mansfield Stadium Tuesday. Washington Academy won 3-0.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Washington Academy's Gage Feeney pitches to George Stevens Academy during their Eastern Maine Class C baseball final at Mansfield Stadium Tuesday. Washington Academy won 3-0. Buy Photo
Bangor Christian's Tucker Rice connects with a pitch from Limestone on Wednesday during the Eastern Maine Class D baseball final at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. Bangor Christian won 11-1 in five innings.
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Bangor Christian's Tucker Rice connects with a pitch from Limestone on Wednesday during the Eastern Maine Class D baseball final at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. Bangor Christian won 11-1 in five innings. Buy Photo

Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium and Mahaney Diamond on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College in Standish will become more than mere baseball facilities Saturday — they truly will be fields of dreams as state champions in Classes A, B, C and D are crowned.

“This has been a long time coming for us,” said Bangor senior pitcher-outfielder Justin Courtney, whose Rams will face Windham for the Class A title at 1 p.m. in Standish. “We’ve had this in our sights the whole year and our guys have worked hard every day.

“I think we’re ready for Saturday and I can’t wait to get going.”

The Class C game also is at Saint Joseph’s, with Washington Academy of East Machias facing Sacopee Valley of South Hiram at 4:30 p.m.

The Mansfield Stadium doubleheader begins at 11 a.m. with the Class B clash between Caribou and Greely of Cumberland, followed at 4 p.m. by Class D finalists Bangor Christian and Wiscasset.

CLASS A: Bangor (17-2) was Eastern A’s top team during the regular season, then backed it up with three more hard-fought victories to win the regional title and a chance to secure its first state crown since 2006.

“All year long it’s been a never-say-never attitude with these guys,” said Bangor coach Jeff Fahey, whose team has won 10 consecutive games. “They never really get too high or too low, they play pretty calm all the time. We’ve had a lot of close games, so I don’t think we’ll get rattled that way. I don’t think anything fazes these guys.”

Bangor boasts a team batting average well in excess of .300 and the 1-2 pitching punch of Courtney (6-1), a right-hander who earned the victory over Messalonskee of Oakland in Tuesday’s regional final, and sophomore left-hander Trevor DeLaite (5-0), who pitched a 13-strikeout two-hitter in Bangor’s 1-0 semifinal win over Cony of Augusta.

Windham (11-9) allowed just four runs in four postseason victories to advance from the 11th seed in Western A to its first regional crown.

Junior Tanner Laberge (4-2) pitched nine hitless innings as coach Brody Artes’ Eagles no-hit Marshwood of South Berwick in the final. Laberge has two postseason wins for Windham, as does senior Spencer Hodge (4-3).

Windham’s emergence as Western A champion shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. A number of players on the roster were part of the town’s 2013 state American Legion tournament championship team that edged Bangor’s Legion entry 5-4 en route to that crown.

CLASS B: Caribou (14-6) exhibited a flair for the dramatic in winning its first regional crown.

The seventh-seeded Vikings edged Foxcroft Academy in the preliminary round with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Then in the semifinals at defending EM champion Winslow, coach Jimmie Thibodeau’s club tied the game in the seventh and scored the winning run in the top of the eighth.

But those were merely show prep for the final, when Caribou rallied from a 3-0 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, then got an RBI single by winning pitcher Matt Curry with two out in the 10th to earn the 4-3 victory over Old Town.

“We were just hoping to make the playoffs this year and redeem ourselves in the prelims because we lost there last year,” said Curry. “We wanted to win one game but it’s just kept going and we’re riding it.”

Sean Sadler, the winning pitcher in Caribou’s 3-2 semifinal victory at Winslow, is expected to start in the state final.

Greely (16-3) has not allowed a run in its last 32 innings — including three straight postseason shutouts.

The Rangers, who last won the Western B crown in 2011, feature University of Massachusetts-bound senior pitcher-outfielder Bailey Train (4-1) along with classmate Connor Russell (5-1) and junior Will Bryant (5-1).

CLASS C: Washington Academy (15-4) is riding a 10-game winning streak in its first year back in Class C after two years in Class B.

The Raiders allowed just one run in three postseason victories, an effort anchored by junior right-hander Gage Feeney. Feeney (8-3) had complete-game victories over Orono in the quarterfinals and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill in Tuesday’s EM championship game, allowing four hits while striking out 21 batters over 14 innings.

Sacopee Valley is the lone undefeated baseball team remaining statewide, its 19-0 record preserved by two come-from-behind victories during the WM tournament.

The Hawks scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning to rally past No. 1 Monmouth Academy 8-6 in the semifinals, then scored three runs in the seventh to edge Saint Dominic of Auburn 3-2 in the final.

Sacopee Valley is led by senior pitcher-third baseman Anthony Haskell, a finalist for the state’s Mr. Baseball award.

CLASS D: Bangor Christian (18-1) will attempt to become the first Class D team to win three straight state titles since North Yarmouth Academy (2002-04).

Coach Mike Poulin’s club outscored its three Eastern Maine playoff opponents by a combined 30-2, winning both its semifinal and final early under the 10-run rule.

“[For] the seniors, this is their fourth Eastern Maine championship game,” said Poulin after his Patriots defeated Limestone-Maine School of Science and Mathematics 10-0 in a 4½-inning regional title game. “This will be our third state game with this group, so they’re well seasoned.”

Wiscasset (10-9) won its first Western Maine crown in its first year in Class D after dropping down from Class C by enrollment.

Coach Mike Bowles’ Wolverines also have been stingy during postseason play, yielding just three runs in its three victories.

 

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