The Machias Bulldogs used a remarkable 10-run rally in the top of the fifth inning Wednesday to capture the first Class D North baseball championship in school history with a 13-8 victory over Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Coach Sam Whitney’s club had 13 consecutive batters reach base during the decisive uprising, which led to the school’s first regional title in the sport.
“This means a lot to have played pretty well with not a lot of kids,” said shortstop Kashman Feeney, one of five juniors on the Bulldogs’ 11-player roster, which included no seniors and two eighth-graders. “But we’ve kept it rolling this spring, and to get those 10 runs helped a lot.”
No. 6 Machias (13-3) plays Searsport for the state crown at 3 p.m. Saturday, also at Mansfield Stadium. Searsport defeated Richmond 4-3 in Wednesday’s D South final.
No. 5 Southern Aroostook (15-3) had averaged 15.3 runs per game in its three previous postseason victories and looked in control after jumping out to a 4-0 lead through three innings in its first regional final appearance since 2015.
Garrett Harvey’s two-out double to right drove home Xavier Morales in the bottom of the first, then Morales singled home a run in the second to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead. Southern Aroostook added two runs in the bottom of the third, with Graham Siltz’s RBI triple the key hit and Buddy Porter driving home the second run on a groundout.
Machias finally broke through in the top of the fourth as Feeney hit a leadoff double and scored on Kyle Anderson’s single to center. Anderson stole both second and third before scoring on a passed ball on a called third strike to Caleb Norton to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Then came an inning that had to be seen to be believed. The teams combined to send 26 batters to the plate and score 14 runs on 14 hits.
Machias did the most damage, with 13 straight batters reaching base after one out in the top of the inning on 10 hits, two walks and an intentional walk to take a 12-4 lead.
“Down 4-0 I thought if we didn’t have a big inning soon, we were going to be in some trouble,” said Machias leadoff batter Ethan Foss, who doubled twice during the rally. “But I’m glad we got the bats going and started hitting the ball, and once we got that momentum and got three or four runs in, the whole team felt it.”
Anderson’s two-run single and Foss’s second double, which also drove home two runs, were the biggest run producers of the lengthy rally.
Jayden Rhodes, Shane Feeney and Anderson also posted two hits apiece for Machias during the uprising, which came despite Southern Aroostook pitchers striking out the side.
“One inning changes everything, and you really can’t say anything about that,” Southern Aroostook coach Tim Collier said. “They just hit the ball really well that inning. We had one miscue, but that really didn’t affect what was going on.
“But that’s the name of the game. That’s baseball.”
Southern Aroostook countered with a 10-batter at-bat of its own, aided by a wild pitch and a passed ball that enabled two Warriors to reach base after striking out.
Nolan Hodgkins had a two-run single and Andrew Lewis an RBI single as SACS scored four runs to draw within 12-8. Anderson, the starting pitcher for Machias, recorded four strikeouts in that inning.
Eighth-grader Lucas Robicheau added a run for Machias in the sixth. He drew a leadoff walk, stole second and reached third on a throwing error — the lone error of the game by either team — and scored after Foss walked and later got caught in a rundown between first and second bases.
Rhodes, a junior right-hander who caught Anderson for the first five innings, went to the mound in the sixth and closed out the game by retiring all six batters he faced, five by strikeout.
Machias finished with a 15-11 hits advantage, with Foss and Rhodes leading the Bulldogs with three hits apiece while Morales had three hits for Southern Aroostook.