Searsport High School continued its dominance of Class D baseball on Saturday.
Senior Cody Reynolds tossed a six-hitter and aided his own cause by driving in three runs with two doubles to lead the Vikings to their fifth state championship in six years, 8-4 over Machias, at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Class D South champ Searsport concluded a 10-10 campaign while D North winner Machias, playing in its first ever baseball state title game, finished at 13-4.
Searsport broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the third inning before thunderstorms caused a one hour, 18-minute delay. Players on each team helped the Mansfield grounds crew put the tarpaulin on the field and take it off under the direction of field director Ron St. Pierre.
Gage Ellis drew a walk against Kashman Feeney to start the third-inning rally and Nate Ashey golfed a single into left-center field. Sam Cahill’s sacrifice bunt produced a run when Feeney overthrew first base.
Cole Ellis walked and Reynolds belted a two-run double to left-center.
“The pitch was a little bit inside. I didn’t feel it come off the bat. I smoked that one,” Reynolds said.
Josh Wright walked to load the bases and then the thunderstorms came.
After the rain delay, Jayden Rhodes came on to pitch and promptly struck out the side to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance.
But Searsport padded the lead with four runs in the fifth to make it 8-1.
Reynolds drew a one-out walk and Wright reached on an infield single. Following a fielder’s choice, Chase Brassbridge lined an RBI single, the right fielder dropped a fly ball to allow the second run to score and Ellis poked a two-run single into center field that glanced off the glove of onrushing center fielder Lucas Robichaud, a eighth-grader who made a valiant lunging effort.
“I got pretty lucky. I thought he was going to catch it,” Ellis said.
Robichaud had made a terrific catch off Cole Ellis to begin the fifth.
“Those runs were huge. We needed every run we could get,” Searsport coach John Frye said.
The determined Bulldogs fought back by scoring three unearned runs with two outs in the sixth. Rhodes reached on the third baseman’ throwing error to begin the rally.
Two outs later, Shane Feeney walloped a run-scoring triple over left fielder Gage Ellis’ head. Holland delivered Feeney with a pop-fly hit on the infield and he scored when Kaiden Gaddis rifled a double into the left-field corner.
But Reynolds struck out the next hitter and allowed only a walk in the seventh to notch the complete-game win.
“Machias is a great team. They had a great tournament. They never gave up. They battled until the last out. We could be seeing them again next year,” Frye said.
Right-hander Reynolds threw 91 pitches, 56 for strikes. He struck out six and walked two. Only one run was earned.
“I just tried to throw strikes. I knew they could hit but I know we can make plays and that’s what we needed to do. My curve wasn’t working so I relied on a high fastball,” Reynolds said.
His teammates made two errors and turned in a number of fine defensive plays including Gage Ellis’s diving catch to rob Holland in the fourth inning.
“Cody pitched well today,” Searsport catcher Ashey said. “I’m thankful for him.”
Frye said Reynolds wanted to pitch the state final because older brother Troy pitched Searsport to the 2015 state title.
Bulldogs coach Sam Whitney said Searsport is a very good team. He felt his team was “in the game” the whole way. However, he said a couple of defensive plays they failed to make and not capitalizing enough on their scoring chances hurt them.
After Reynolds doubled in a first-inning run, Machias received consecutive singles from Ethan Foss, Rhodes and Kyle Anderson (RBI) to tie it but couldn’t further capitalize despite having runners on second and third with nobody out.
Reynolds was the game’s only repeat hitter with his two doubles.
Rhodes pitched four impressive innings of relief. Just one of the four runs off him was earned. He struck out six and walked one.
“He has done that all season. He comes in and gets the job done,” Whitney said. “He has pitched 24 innings and has given up something like eight runs with over 50 strikeouts.”
“He’s a very good pitcher,” Searsport’s Ashey said.