Sports

These northern Maine high school baseball teams are turning heads

By Sam Canfield, Bangor Daily News Staff

The northern Maine high school baseball season is officially halfway done, and clear playoff contenders are emerging.

Unsurprisingly, blue bloods like Bangor (7-3), Ellsworth (8-1) and Old Town (6-2) are primed for their annual postseason runs, boasting rosters filled with seasoned veterans and hungry underclassmen alike. 

Bangor wields Class A North’s top offense (8.6 runs scored per game), Ellsworth owns Class B North’s top defense (1.9 runs allowed per game), and Old Town is the reigning state champion eager to repeat.

What’s more intriguing about this year’s season is the unexpected up-and-comers — the juggernauts with empty trophy cases to fill. 

Foxcroft Academy, Hampden Academy, and Lawrence are all dominating this season, yet have never won a state title. Meanwhile, Messalonskee and Washington Academy have just two losses apiece, and are playing some of their best baseball in the past decade.

Here’s more information on these five teams, ordered alphabetically.

Foxcroft Academy

10-0, 1st Class C North

Better known for its football program, Foxcroft Academy has been on a tear this spring, most recently no-hitting Orono on Monday. Through 10 games, the Ponies boast an incredible plus-87 run differential, winning five of their games by double digits. 

On the mound, seniors Jadon Richard and Jack Day plus juniors Calvin Landry and Hayden Strout have conceded just 18 runs (10 earned), with twice as many strikeouts (90) than walks (45). In the batter’s box, freshman Thomas Day and sophomore Jack Caruso are playing beyond their years, and Foxcroft is hitting north of .315 as a team, with 27 extra-base hits and 53 walks. 

The Ponies have also been clutch when they’ve needed to be, walking Orono off on April 27, and beating a fearsome Washington Academy team twice in extra innings — including an 18-inning thriller on May 4.

“We have some high-IQ guys that know how to compete, and know what their job is,” second-year head coach Dan White said. “We’ve won all of the close games we’ve been in. You have to know how to perform in the clutch moments, and we’ve been playing efficiently when it matters.”

Bangor Daily News photo/Sam Canfield
NO-HIT VICTORY — Foxcroft Academy senior Jadon Richard, right, and junior Calvin Landry, second from right, helped power the Ponies to a 12-0 no-hit victory over Orono on May 13.

Hampden Academy

10-0, 1st Class A North

Owning the No. 1 ranking in the state according to MaxPreps, the Hampden Broncos have an experienced, well-balanced squad primed to take home their first gold glove in school history.

Up against a tough Class A schedule, Hampden’s trio of star pitchers in senior Collin Peckham, junior Kaysen Wildman and junior Bodie Bishop have a combined ERA of 1.93 over 65 innings pitched, with 67 strikeouts and 29 walks.

Meanwhile, seven members of Hampden’s starting lineup are batting at least .300, including Peckham (.389 batting with eight RBIs), junior second baseman Andrew Cote (.314, 11 RBIs, four extra-base hits), junior DH Aiden Hulsey (.333) and sophomore catcher Rogan Lord (.400, three extra-base hits).

The Broncos have also had their fair share of clutch moments, walking Edward Little off 3-2 on Monday, scoring six runs in two innings to beat Bangor 13-11, and Lord hitting an eighth-inning, two-run home run versus Messalonskee on April 29.

“I can’t say enough of the resiliency and mental fortitude of these guys,” head coach Jon Perry said. “We have a veteran bunch that have played some really good baseball the last couple of years. We want to be aggressive at the plate — we’ve had great pitching and great defense, but we haven’t hit the ball well. That’s the difference this year.”

Lawrence

9-2, 1st Class B North

With some strong senior leadership and a pitching staff that has exceeded expectations, the Lawrence Bulldogs are off to a 9-2 start for the second consecutive season, and are undefeated (8-0) against Class B North opposition. They have won five games by double digits.

“We had some unknowns [regarding] pitching going into the season, but I knew we had a chance to be a good team,” first-year head coach Corey Pelletier said. “It’s really been a team effort — it’s been fun to see. Our attitude and focus hasn’t wavered.”

Stepping up for the Bulldogs on the mound has been junior Zack Hill (1.67 ERA), senior Braden Littlefield (3.50 ERA), and senior Maddox Santone (0.78 ERA), among seven total pitchers that have recorded wins.

Lawrence also has five guys with at least seven RBIs — Santone (.342 batting average), senior catcher Cam Dostie (.342), junior shortstop Michael Hamlin (.323), senior outfielder Riley Leary (.261) and senior outfielder Gavin Wilson (.206).

Messalonskee

9-2, 2nd Class A North

Messalonskee hasn’t won a state championship since 2012, but the Eagles could return to the mountaintop in the near future.

Through 11 games, the Eagles have Class A North’s second-best offense (7.8 runs per game), and a young pitching staff (5.3 runs per game) that will only continue to improve every week. Since losing to No. 1 Hampden in extra innings on April 29, Messalonskee is riding a five-game winning streak.

Spearheading Messalonskee’s well-balanced lineup is junior second baseman Ty Bernier, sophomore first baseman Dennis Martin, senior shortstop Garrett Card, junior left fielder Parker Reynolds and junior catcher Michael Achorn.

“We’ve had four come-from-behind wins this year, and three extra-inning games — we love playing baseball,” head coach Eric Palin said. “We’ve had trouble finding the plate, but this is one of the best offenses I’ve had. We always trust our offense to get us back into games.”

Washington Academy

7-2, 2nd Class C North

Down in East Machias, the Washington Academy Raiders are playing terrific baseball with an extremely young team.

Led by two-way freshmen stars Trevor Shimabukuro (.556 batting average, six extra-base hits, 13 RBIs; 29.1 innings pitched, 0.48 ERA, no-hitter versus MDI) and James Welch (.276 batting, 16 runs scored, three doubles; 6.2 innings, 0.0 ERA), the Raiders have five underclassmen in their starting lineup and are outscoring their opponents 86-10 — with five shutouts and five double-digit victories.

Six-foot-3 sophomore Colby Moholland has also been going off at the plate, mashing five doubles and two home runs, with 14 total RBIs and a .391 batting average.

Complementing Washington Academy’s youthfulness is the senior leadership of four-year lettermen Carson Prout and Caden Schwinn. Together, the duo have 19 runs scored and 16 RBIs (including a Prout home run), plus seven pitching appearances under their belt (0.68 ERA, 34 strikeouts).

“We take a lot of pride coming from Down East Maine — we just wanna crash the party,” head coach Rich Olivares said. “We have five pitchers we can go to at any time, and a next man up mentality. They all cheer for each other.”

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