Brewer High School baseball coach Dana Corey exhorts his team during the 2018 Class B North championship game against Ellsworth at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. The Witches are back in Class A this season seeking to continue the program's success in recent years. (Pete Warner | BDN)

The Brewer High School baseball team has spent the last few years hovering near the enrollment cutoff line between Class A and Class B, but it hasn’t mattered that much.

Coach Dana Corey’s club had a 66-27 record from 2015-19 preceding last spring’s shutdown of high school baseball due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three years in Class A between 2015 and 2017 produced a 38-16 mark, three top-four finishes in the final Heal Point ratings and a trip to the 2015 regional championship game.

That was followed by two years in Class B when the Witches went 28-11 and captured the program’s first state championship in 2018 and earned a trip back to the North semifinals in 2019.

Now Brewer is back in Class A and, after a year off, has focused the early stages of this season on revisiting the fundamentals with an eye toward another competitive spring.

“Baseball’s a skill sport and you’ve got to be playing it,” said Corey, a 1969 Brewer High School alumnus who has been the head baseball coach at his alma mater since 2010. “The kids will come along because they’re resilient, and the learning curve may be a little higher than it’s been in past years.”

As for the change in classes, the Witches .704 winning percentage during its last three years in Class A and .718 mark in its recent two-year stay in Class B suggests that the level of play in the different divisions may not be substantially different.

“We’ve got to play whoever we play whenever we play. The rules are all the same for everybody,” Corey said. “There’s a good tradition of baseball at Brewer like there is at other schools and that helps out, and there’s also a lot of good teams in ‘B’ that would be competitive with the ‘A’ teams.”

Brewer will rely on a mix of veterans from the 2019 team with several promising younger players. The starting lineup for its season opener against Bangor on Tuesday included three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.

“That one year off doesn’t put us that far removed from the kids who have played and been successful, and I think that’s something that stays within the program when you have kids who have gone through that and been successful,” Corey said. “They take pride in what they do and know about winning and how to win, and that makes a huge, huge difference.”

The Witches return three full-time starters from two years ago in seniors Anthony Chiappone and Kyle Goodrich and junior Logan Levensalor.

Chiappone anchors the pitching staff but also will play both infield and outfield. Goodrich pitches and plays center field and Levensalor is the catcher after playing middle infield as a freshman two years ago.

Cody Graves is another senior with considerable varsity experience whose roles will include pitching and designated hitter.

Other upperclassmen who started in the season opener were junior second baseman-pitcher Maddox Torrey and junior outfielder Ethan Norwood.

Joining that group are several key underclassmen, including three who were among the top four hitters in Brewer’s batting order during its season debut. Sophomore outfielder-pitcher Jed Gilpatrick batted leadoff against Bangor, followed by freshman infielder-outfielder-pitcher Grady Vanidestine (second) and third baseman Rowan Valley, the cleanup hitter.

Another sophomore, Evan Nadeau, played shortstop in the opener.

“This group knows that wanting to get along together and making the team greater than themselves individually is going to carry them a long way,” Corey said. “They also know that every day they’re fighting for positions right now because it’s so early in the season.”

The Witches will play their home games this spring at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor while their home diamond, Heddericg Field, and adjacent fields are being upgraded with new lighting as part of a renovation plan that includes adding artificial turf to the area.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...