STANDISH, Maine — You can classify Saturday’s Class C baseball state championship under the category “finished business” for Hall-Dale High School of Farmingdale.
The Bulldogs, upset during their first game of postseason play last spring, used the collective experience of a veteran roster and the three-hit pitching of senior right-hander Cole Lockhart to realize their season-long goal and edge Houlton 2-1 for the state title at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College.
“We didn’t lose one player from last year and we knew we had unfinished business,” said Lockhart. “It was time to get it done.
“We knew we could get here, and we knew what we could do.”
The title is the third overall for Hall-Dale and first since 2001 for the Bulldogs, who concluded their season with a 19-1 record.
“We knew how talented this team was coming into the season in that we had all of our players returning,” said Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair. “I think going into this year we had a goal of coming down here to St. Joe’s and competing for a state championship.
“We competed last year but we knew we could be better this year.”
Houlton, bidding for its first state championship, finished 14-4.
“Obviously I would have liked to come out on top, but they played better baseball than us,” said Houlton coach Jim Castner. “We didn’t beat ourselves. They’re a very good team, the best team we’ve seen and that’s what you expect in a state title game.”
Lockhart required just 77 pitches for his complete-game effort, striking out seven and walking only one — the first batter he faced — in outdueling Houlton right-hander Nick Perfitt.
“He worked at a great pace and kept his composure,” Castner said of Lockhart. “And once he got momentum he just carried it. He also mixed in his curveball very well. We were starting to time his fastball and he did a nice job and his coaches did a nice job of getting him to throw more curveballs, which kept him in charge.”
Perfitt was just as efficient, striking out five, walking no one and hitting a batter while throwing 79-pitch five-hitter in six innings.
“He’s got a terrific breaking ball, one of the better ones we’ve seen all season and we were having a hard time timing it up and getting quality at-bats,” Sinclair said. “He had a quality fastball, too, he did his job. It just came down to one or two plays that made the difference.”
Houlton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as leadoff batter Isia Bouchard walked and scored on Keegan Gentle’s double to the left-center-field gap.
Hall-Dale tied the game in the bottom of the second. Akiria Warren reached third base when his double to right-center was misplayed in the outfield, then scored on Lockhart’s groundout to second base.
The Bulldogs took the lead an inning later. Logan Dupont reached on an infield hit and was sacrificed to second by Josh Nadeau. After Austin Stebbins was hit by a pitch, the runners moved to second and third on Jacob Brown’s groundout to second.
Alec Byron then hit a high chopper beyond third base that went for an infield hit that plated Dupont. Byron then deliberately got caught in a rundown between first and second base, but Houlton first baseman Nick Brewer threw Stebbins out at the plate to end the inning.
Houlton managed just one baserunner over the final four innings against Lockhart. Perfitt reached on an infield error with one out in the top of the sixth and was sacrificed to second by Ryder Graham.
But Lockhart got Brewer to ground out to Byron — who had five assists and one putout in the last four innings — to end Houlton’s best chance at a comeback.
“It came together really well at the end of the season,” Perfitt said of the Shiretowners’ season, which didn’t include an outdoor practice until May 7 due to the late Aroostook County winter. “We really started battling teams, and we kept battling today all the way through the seventh.”