Eight of the state’s top high school senior baseball players have been named finalists for the 21st annual Dr. John W. Winkin Award, symbolic of the state’s Mr. Baseball.
The award will be presented by the Maine Baseball Coaches Association just before the start of the Maine East-West Senior All-Star Game to be played June 22 at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.
The Winkin Award is named after the legendary University of Maine baseball coach who guided the Black Bears to six appearances in the College World Series.
Finalists for this year’s award are Max Andrews of John Bapst of Bangor, Sam Dexter of Messalonskee of Oakland, Luke Fernandes of Marshwood of South Berwick, Ben Holmes of Dirigo of Dixfield, Corbin Hyde of Lewiston, Dustin Sawtelle of Lee Academy, Ben Wessel of Scarborough and J.T. Whitten of Waterville.
Andrews, a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher and first baseman, was the ace of the John Bapst pitching staff this spring as the Crusaders went 12-4 during the regular season and finished as the No. 3 seed in Eastern Maine Class B. Andrews also was the team’s cleanup hitter as John Bapst advanced to the regional semifinals.
Andrews will attend the University of Maine on a football scholarship in the fall.
Dexter has been a four-year starter for Messalonskee, helping the Eagles rank among the upper-echelon teams in Eastern Maine Class A throughout his career. This spring Dexter has batted .500 with 16 RBIs while leading Messalonskee to a 13-5 record, the No. 4 seed in Eastern A and a berth in Tuesday’s regional championship game against Lewiston.
Fernandes, already named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, led Marshwood to a 14-2 regular-season record and the No. 1 seed in Western Maine Class A. He compiled a 4-1 pitching record with a 1.83 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 33⅔ innings, while also batting .400 with 17 RBIs.
Fernandes has earned a baseball scholarship to continue his playing career at Boston College.
Holmes has been a mainstay for a Dirigo program that will be playing in its third Western Maine Class C championship game in four years against Telstar of Bethel on Tuesday. He has established a school record with more than 20 career victories on the mound, including a no-hitter against Wiscasset earlier this season and a two-hitter in the WM semifinals as the top-ranked Cougars defeated No. 4 Hall-Dale of Farmingdale 3-0.
With that complete-game effort against Hall-Dale, Holmes now has not allowed an earned run in his last 29 innings of work.
Hyde, whose brother Mekae Hyde was a finalist for the Winkin Award last spring, is a four-year varsity player at Lewiston with a career pitching record of 14-2 with four saves, including a 5-1 record, two saves and an 0.61 ERA this spring.
Hyde also is batting .455 with 16 RBIs for a 15-3 Lewiston team that finished second in the Eastern A Heal point ratings and will try to win its second straight regional title when it faces Messalonskee of Oakland on Tuesday.
Hyde will play baseball next year at Endicott College.
Sawtelle is a four-year varsity player for Lee Academy, and would be the second Panda to win the Winkin Award following Steve Coombs, the inaugural honoree in 1992.
Sawtelle has been the ace of the Lee pitching staff for the last two seasons, and this spring led the Pandas to a 10-8 record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinals.
Wessel was 6-0 with an 0.62 ERA this spring until suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament injury that will require offseason Tommy John surgery. Despite the injury he has been a key offensive contributor for Scarborough, batting .486 with 21 RBIs in helping the Red Storm compile a 16-2 record and earn a berth in Tuesday’s Western A final against Cheverus of Portland.
Wessel has received a scholarship to continue his baseball career at the University of Rhode Island.
Whitten, already part of two Class B state championship teams at Waterville, has led the Purple Panthers to a 17-1 record this spring and a berth in Wednesday’s Eastern Maine final against Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft. Whitten also is batting .450 with 26 RBIs and has a 7-1 pitching record with a 1.84 ERA.
Whitten is expected to continue his baseball career next year at Husson University in Bangor.