One team enters Wednesday night’s Eastern Maine Class B baseball final averaging more than 10 runs per game.
Its opponent boasts a likely starting pitcher with a 0.50 earned run average.
Those numbers could make for a battle of contrasting styles when Waterville takes on Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft for the regional title in a 7 p.m. start from Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium.
The Waterville-Foxcroft game will be the second half of a championship doubleheader at Mansfield, as Bangor Christian will face Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook for the Eastern Maine Class D title at 3 p.m.
In Class B, second-seeded Waterville (17-1) enters the contest as the two-time defending state champion, but while pitching was the Purple Panthers’ dominant trait a year ago, righthanders Kyle Bishop and Tim Locke have moved on to Husson University and Thomas College, respectively.
What’s left behind is a powerful offensive club that has scored in double figures in each of its previous playoff victories, including a come-from-behind 14-13 survival of No. 3 John Bapst of Bangor in the semifinals in which coach Don Sawyer’s club trailed 13-1 in the fifth inning and nearly lost because of the 10-run rule before rallying with 13 unanswered runs in its last three at-bats.
Waterville is anchored by senior Mr. Baseball finalist J.T. Whitten, who is batting .450 with 26 RBIs and has a 7-1 pitching record with a 1.84 ERA.
Other top hitters for the Purple Panthers include Tyler Bouchard (.462, 21 RBIs), Dan Pooler (.420, 26 RBIs), Lance Lefebvre (.433, 20 RBIs) and Aiden Fitzgerald (.353, 29 RBI).
Fourth-seeded Foxcroft (14-5) is enjoying a unique status, qualifying for the Eastern B championship game just one year after playing in the Eastern C final.
Coach Mark Chevalier’s Ponies, which was reclassified to Class B by enrollment this year, endured an early three-game losing streak and was just 4-4 midway through the regular season but has won 10 of 11 games since then, including eight in a row.
Foxcroft is led by junior pitcher-shortstop Ryan Rebar, 7-1 with that 0.50 ERA along with a .361 batting average and 15 stolen bases.
Aggressive baserunning has been a big part of Foxcroft’s success, as the Ponies have 94 stolen bases in 111 attempts, led by Hunter Law’s 17 thefts.
Law also is batting .396, while Caleb Richard (.365) and Cody Coiley (.344, 18 RBIs, 10 SB) are other top offensive threats.
In Class D, Bangor Christian returns to the regional final for the second straight year against a Southern Aroostook team back for the first time since 2008.
Fourth-seeded Bangor Christian (17-2) has allowed just 11 hits and three runs in its three postseason wins to date, with Ben Bragg earning two complete-game victories — including a 4-2 semifinal victory over top-ranked Central Aroostook of Mars Hill — and Cody Collins tossing a four-hitter in a 2-1 quarterfinal edging of Deer Isle-Stonington.
Third-ranked Southern Aroostook (11-4) has averaged 11 runs in its two postseason victories, a 12-3 quarterfinal win over Woodland that avenged a season-ending loss to the Dragons, and a 10-2 semifinal decision at No. 2 Hodgdon.
Pat Goodall, Trent Cullinan, Vance Gustin and Will McGary have been among the key contributors for the Warriors.