Midcoast 14s state championship run halted by Central MaineLocal tournament squad surges to seven victories in nine games
Fairfield — The Midcoast Babe Ruth League 14-year-old tournament baseball team certainly took the road less traveled to a berth in the state championship game. The more difficult road. A road that eight days earlier had a fork in it, when, at that point, the young locals were 1-1 in the double-elimination tourney and had a choice.
Namely, to be satisfied or to step on the field with the mindset that they would battle each opponent, pitch by pitch, inning by inning, game by game and day by day. Midcoast players chose to fight on and let the chips fall where they may. And the locals cashed in a lot of chips in recent days, which nearly ended with the jackpot of a state title.
Alas, when the dust settled, a state crown was not in the cards as Central Maine outlasted Midcoast 4-1 in the state finale on Sunday afternoon, July 22 at Lawrence High School in Fairfield.
It was obvious throughout the state tourney, there was simply no quit in the Midcoast players and coaches, who battled — day after day — from the losers' bracket to give themselves a chance to capture a state championship.
Midcoast split its first two games in the state tournament, which began July 13 in Thomaston and then moved to Lawrence High School, but won six straight contests to earn a berth in the state championship game.
Midcoast (7-2) faced previously-unbeaten Central Maine (4-1) in two final games on July 22. Midcoast won Sunday's first game 10-2 and before Central Maine bounced back to win the second, winner-take-all finale 4-1 the same day.
Thus, Central Maine, which also beat Franklin County, Tri-County South and Tri-County North earlier in the state tourney, advances to the New England regional tournament on Friday, July 27 in Winooski, Vt. Central Maine represents the Winslow, Waterville, Messalonskee and Fairfield areas.
In the state tourney, Midcoast dominated most opponents as the locals, who include players from Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties, beat Central Maine 10-2 on July 22, Tri-County North 20-2 and Apple Valley 8-1 on July 21, Tri-County South 21-2 in five innings on July 20, Coastal South 15-5 on July 19, Coastal North 14-1 on July 18 and Apple Valley 13-1 on July 13. The locals' only two losses were by a total of five runs (14-12) to Tri-County North on July 15 and 4-1 to Central Maine on July 22.
In nine state games, Midcoast has outscored opponents 114-30. In the tourney, Midcoast, which has lived on the edge knowing it would be eliminated with a loss in any of six straight games, has had little trouble hitting and, subsequently, scoring runs.
The Midcoast 14-year-old tourney team includes: Andrew Hall and Teddy Laurita of Camden-Rockport; Matthew Tomasello and Nick Morton of the Damariscotta Lions; Thomas Curtis of Georges Valley; Sam Kulikowski and Alex Flagg of Penobscot Bay Dentistry of Belfast; Kyle Crans and Ryan Pierce of Rockport Automotive; Nick Mazurek and Jake Bartlett of Rockland Café; Nick DePatsy of Waldoboro; and Daren Wood of Wiscasset Ford. The team is managed by Rich Mazurek and coached by Chris Roman and Chuck Crans.
In the first game Sunday, Midcoast topped Central Maine 10-2, as strong pitching by Mazurek and solid hitting led the locals.
With help from a strong defense, Mazurek was able to hold Central Maine to only one hit, while fanning 13 over seven innings. Mazurek, who struck out seven straight batters from the first through the third innings (including the side in order in the second and third), also walked one batter, while only having to get out of a two-run jam in one inning.
Offensively, Midcoast kept its bats alive and on fire. Ryan Pierce led the team with three singles, and scored three runs. Hall added two singles, while Laurita chipped in a single and double.
In the second game Sunday, both teams opened the game by scoring a run each in their respective halves of the first stanza.
Central Maine pitcher Nick Mayo kept Midcoast in check by allowing only three hits, and striking out seven to lead his team to Vermont for the New Englands.
Early missed opportunities for Midcoast turned out to be what kept them from the state title, said coach Mazurek. Midcoast left runners on second and third base in the first inning, and then left the bases loaded in the second.
Mayo quickly settled down and sent 10 straight Midcoast batters back to the dugout without reaching base before giving up a single to Curtis.
Leading Midcoast in the final game was Tomasello, who singled and scored the lone run. Hall threw a terrific game on the mound by striking out two and giving up nine hits.
The Midcoast also had five of its players named to the all-tournament team for the state tournament. Mazurek, Flagg, Hall, Pierce and Curtis were all named to the state team.
After splitting its first two games, the following is a summary of Midcoast's most recent five games:
On July 18 in Fairfield, Midcoast beat Coastal North 14-1, using an eight-hit attack. Midcoast jumped to a five-run lead after one inning. Midcoast added five runs in the second and four in the third for the win. Flagg paced Midcoast with two singles and three runs. Tomasello also scored three runs, while DePatsy earned the pitching win after going three innings, allowing a run on a hit, with five strikeouts and no walks.
On July 19 in Fairfield, Midcoast beat Coastal South 15-5, on the strength of a 16-hit attack. Midcoast jumped to a five-run lead in the first inning and cruised to the victory. Midcoast put the game away in the fifth by plating 10 runs on six hits in the stanza Tomasello had two singles and scored twice to pace Midcoast. Laurita also scored twice and had a double and single for the winners. Laurita recorded the pitching win with three innings of work, allowing three runs on five hits, and a strikeout.
On Friday July 20 in Fairfield, Midcoast bested Tri-County South 21-2, with an impressive 16-hit attack. Midcoast continued the trend of jumping to early leads. The winners led 9-0 after the first stanza and cruised to the five-inning victory. Pierce had four hits in four at-bats, with two runs. Mazurek chipped in with a double, single and two runs. Flagg also scored three runs and DePatsy earned his second win of the tournament by pitching two innings, allowing a run. Hall and Wood closed the game on the mound, combining to allow one hit and striking out three.
On July 21 in Fairfield, Midcoast beat Apple Valley 8-1, despite mustering only six hits. Midcoast again started strongly, with a 6-0 first-inning lead. Mazurek singled in two runs in the first to get the winners started. Curtis singled twice, while DePatsy returned to the mound to pick up his third win of the tourney. He pitched three innings of no-hit ball. Wood relieved DePatsy, throwing four innings and allowing a run on three hits, plus two strikeouts.
Also on July 21 in Fairfield, Midcoast pounded 20 hits en route to a 20-2 win over Tri-County North. Midcoast used a 13-run third inning to power its way to the state championship game. Curtis blasted a grand slam to cap the third frame in style. Flagg chipped in with three singles and scored three runs. Tomasello scored four times for the winners. Mazurek doubled, singled twice and added three RBIs. Laurita pitched three scoreless innings to pick up the win. Hall finished on the hill, allowing two runs over the final two frames.
Courier Publications Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.