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There are communities that field baseball teams, and then there are baseball communities.
Searsport High School’s status in the latter category is marked most noticeably by the consistency of its program. The Vikings have captured at least one regional championship in each of the past five decades and six state titles in the past 14 years.
High school gold draws the most attention, but contributors to the current run — Searsport is 17-1 in postseason play since the start of the 2015 season — see much deeper roots to this success.
“Baseball in this town starts all the way down at the lower levels. Little League, junior leagues, all of those coaches have done a great job getting kids ready for middle school and the middle-school coaches have done a great job getting them ready for high school,” Searsport District High School coach John Frye said.
His team secured the Vikings’ fourth Class D state championship in the past five years with Saturday’s 11-0, five-inning victory over Central Aroostook of Mars Hill at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.
“Once they get to high school we tweak ’em a little bit, but they have such a great program at the lower levels that it’s made my job a lot easier,” Frye said.
This year’s squad, which finished with a 15-4 record, had a definitive on-field leader in senior Charlie Spiegel. Last week he was named Searsport’s second Mr. Baseball finalist in the last three seasons, following Barrett Grant in 2017.
The right-hander, who threw a four-hitter in the state final, struck out 102 batters while walking just 16 in 57 innings this spring, including 15 scoreless innings during three postseason starts.
“When he started pitching for us he thought he could throw the ball by everybody,” Frye said. “Over the years he’s worked in the curveball and changeup, and he actually has a knuckle curve, too. He realized he can’t just throw the ball by people, he had to become a pitcher, not a thrower, and he’s done that.”
Spiegel also batted .528 during the regular season for the Vikings, who compete in Class D South but are a member of the eastern Maine-based Penobscot Valley Conference where they played six of their 16 regular-season games against Class C foes.
Spiegel reached base in all four of his plate appearances against Central Aroostook. He singled twice, knocked in a run, was a hit by pitch, walked and scored once as Searsport completed a run of three straight postseason victories via the 10-run rule with a combined score of 32-1.
“Charlie’s such a dangerous person with the bat, most teams have worked around him,” Frye said. “He hasn’t had many pitches to hit all year, and Colby Snow and George Dakin, the guys hitting behind him, have been killing it all year because they’ve worked around Charlie.”
Spiegel, one of five seniors on the Vikings 16-player roster, sees advantages in Searsport’s small-town approach to the sport. It complements the upperclassmen with younger players ready to make big contributions, such as freshman Josh Wright (two singles, three runs scored against CAHS) and sophomore Cody Reynolds (three RBIs).
“We take a lot of pride in our baseball,” said Spiegel, who plans to study chemical engineering at the University of Maine this fall. “Being such a small town and a small school, it allows normally junior varsity guys to step up into a varsity role and get exposed to varsity baseball quite early. Then they’re obviously better players when they get to be upperclassmen.”
Spiegel also sees the chemistry among the older players, younger players and coaching staff as pivotal to the program’s winning ways.
“It’s just our grit, the goofiness and the utter determination of a group of individuals who clicked together,” he said. “We’re not always the most talented, but when we show up we show up to play. We don’t take things too seriously and have a lot of fun.”
Much of that fun starts at the top, he added.
“[Frye is] our fearless leader, like a father figure to a lot of us,” Spiegel said. “He’s just a good human being who cares about us, and when you have somebody who you know cares for you at the head of the team, you know he’ll always have your back and you know you can put yourself out there for him.”
While Spiegel and fellow starters Dakin, Isaiah Runci, Aaron Wiley and Kaden Harriman will graduate, Frye believes the return of Snow, Deagan Moody, Reynolds, Gabe Kneeland and Wright — along with an influx of new varsity-ready prospects — will leave Searsport ready to contend again next spring.
“We’re not done yet,” he said.