BANGOR — Three years is a long time to wait to win back-to-back state titles. However, for the Searsport District High School baseball team, facing Machias in the state Class D championship game on Saturday afternoon, June 19 at Mansfield Stadium certainly was worth the wait.

The Vikings, ironically, perhaps, did have to wait a bit longer than expected as the final contest of 2021 featured an 80-minute weather delay, but, Searsport, ultimately, got a strong effort on the mound from Cody Reynolds — and not a bad showing at the plate from the senior, either — en route to an 8-4 win over the Bulldogs and the coveted state title.

It was the second straight state Class D championship for Searsport, which also won in 2019 before the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19, and the fifth in six years.

It was the ninth state baseball title in school history and fifth in Class D for the Vikings, and came a few hours after the school’s softball team nailed down the state crown in Brewer (see other story).

Searsport team members include Isaias Therio, Gabe Kneeland, Joshua Wright, Tim Smith, Drew Bagley, Cole Ellis, Nate Ashey, Hunter Treat, Robert Walker, Chase Brassbridge, Ashton Ellis, Gage Ellis, Brady Clements, Andrew Donald, Cody Reynolds, Kyle Larrabee and Sam Cahill. The Waldo Count squad is coached by John Frye, R.J. Robertson, Mel Grant, Otis Kneeland and Connor Kneeland.

Machias team members include Lucas Robichaud, Jayden Rhodes, Aidan Preston, Kaiden Gaddis, Ethan Foss, Shane Feeney, Caleb Norton, Gabe Leighton, Kashman Feeney, Brandyn Holland and Kyle Anderson. The squad is coached by Sam Whitney.

In the South playoffs, Searsport (10-10), the third seed, defeated No. 6 Vinalhaven 12-2 in six innings in the quarterfinals, No. 10. St. Dominic Academy of Auburn 13-1 in five innings in the semifinals and No. 1 Richmond 4-3 in the regional final.

In the North playoffs, Machias (13-4), the sixth seed, defeated No. 11 Wisdom 6-5 in the prelims, No. 3 Stearns of Millinocket 3-1 in the quarterfinals, No. 7 Bangor Christian 13-5 in the semifinals and No. 5 Southern Aroostook 13-8 in the regional championship.

Searsport District High School baseball team, 2021 state Class D baseball champions. Zack Miller

Searsport coach John Frye said, while the feeling of winning a state title never gets old, “This one is a lot different than the first four.”

“None of these kids have been there,” he said. “Only Cody and a couple of these kids have been to a state game. So these younger kids have been watching us play for the last four or five years and wanted to join in. From our first practice in the gym all they were talking about is the state game. They’re so excited. And you can see it.”

Another difference was the Vikings’ 6-10 regular-season record, as they typically have had impeccable win/loss records before the postseason.

“We played a tough ‘C’ schedule and a couple ‘B’ schools,” said Frye of this spring’s much different pandemic-era schedule. “We didn’t win as many, but it definitely helped us facing good pitching and we had a lot of momentum. We played great against Bucksport twice and at Orono [the latter of which won the state Class C championship Saturday at St. Joseph’s College].”

Searsport District High School baseball team, 2021 state Class D baseball champions. Zack Miller

On Saturday, Reynolds tossed a complete game on the bump for Searsport as he allowed five hits and two walks, with eight strikeouts. Kashman Feeney and Rhodes pitched for Machias as the duo allowed six hits and six walks, with seven strikeouts.

The Vikings were led at the plate by Ashey (single, run), Cahill (2 runs, stolen base), Reynolds (2 doubles, 3 RBIs), Wright (single), Ashton Ellis (run), Brassbridge (single, run), Kneeland (run, stolen base) and Gage Ellis (single, run, stolen base).

For the Bulldogs, Foss (single, run), Rhodes (single, run), Anderson (single), Shane Feeney (triple, run) and Holland (single, run) paced the offense.

Searsport scored one run in the first inning, three in the third and four in the fifth, while Machias plated one in the first and three in the sixth.

The Vikings got on the board in the top of the first when Cahill drew a one-out walk, stole second and came in to score on a double by Reynolds.

Searsport District High School baseball and softball teams, 2021 state Class D champions. Zack Miller

The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the frame as Foss, Rhodes and Anderson rapped three straight singles, the latter of which plated Foss to tie the score 1-1.

“I was very nervous coming in,” said Reynolds. “Definitely had the jitters, left too many fastballs right down the middle [early] and they smoked them. But I came out and struck two out and had a pop fly and got out of it and they only scored the one run.”

“He hasn’t pitched as much as we probably wanted [him] to,” said Frye of Reynolds. “He came in to me because we were talking about who we were going to throw in the state game after Josh. Gage has pitched great all year, but he said, ‘Coach, I want the ball as much as anything. I want to do what Troy did and I promise you I’ll bring the gold glove home.’ You can’t beat that.”

The game’s most dramatic sequence came in the third inning, which saw the Vikings take a 4-1 lead before an 80-minute weather delay, in which players from both teams, in a sign of tremendous sportsmanship, helped put the tarp on the infield.

Gage Ellis drew a walk ahead of Ashey, who blooped a single to shallow left. Gage Ellis scored after Cahill reached on what started as a sacrifice-bunt attempt, but ended with Cahill at second base after a throwing error, which made the score 2-1.

After Cole Ellis walked to load the bases, Reynolds belted a two-run double to deep left to give the Vikings a 4-1 lead.

Wright then drew a walk to reload the bases, Machias made a pitching change just as thunder clapped in the area, which, ultimately, prompted what proved an 80-minute weather delay.

After the delay, Rhodes, the new Bulldog pitcher, struck out the side as the Vikings left the bases loaded.

“We had some fun during the delay, but when we came back ready to play, you could see we weren’t quite ready,” said Frye. “Bases loaded and three straight strikeouts. But once we settled in and we saw this kid’s three-quarter motion, we started coming around.”

In the fifth inning, Reynolds drew a one-out walk and Wright had an infield hit before Clements reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners. Brassbridge slapped an RBI-single to left field before Bagley, who pinch hit for Kneeland, reached on an error to allow another run to come in for the Vikings.

Gage Ellis smacked a two-run double to center to give Searsport an 8-1 advantage.

The Bulldogs made things interesting in the sixth to the tune of a three-run frame, when they cut their deficit to 8-4.

Rhodes reached to start the frame and eventually made his way to third base before Shane Feeney belted an RBI-triple to deep left.

Coach Frye then went to the mound to speak to Reynolds.

“I can’t say what [the coach] said,” he said with a grin. “But it definitely got me to laugh. He’s a great coach and I’m definitely going to miss him.”

“I told him, ‘Hey we’re going to die or live on your arm, so just give it all you’ve got and come through for us,’ ” said Frye. “And he said, ‘Coach just go sit down so your heart doesn’t have a problem and I’ll take care of it for you.’ ”

Holland reached on a popup that Searsport shortstop Cole Ellis narrowly missed with a diving stab — which allowed Shane Feeney to score — while Holland scored moments later on a double to left by Gaddis.

Frye also congratulated Machias on a strong season.

“They’re a great team,” the veteran coach said. “First-time program ever to make a state game [and] they’ve played well all season and we knew they were going to battle all the way to the last out.”

The Vikings won Class C in 1972 (5-2 over Richmond), 1975 (7-1 over Greely of Cumberland), 2006 (5-2 over St. Dom’s) and 2008 (5-0 over Livermore Falls). The Vikings won Class D in 2015 (4-3 over Stearns of Millinocket), 2016 (10-2 over Penobscot Valley of Howland), 2017 (6-5 over Bangor Christian) and 2019 (11-0 over Central Aroostook of Mars Hill).

The Vikings also finished Class C runners-up in 1981 (9-3 to Oak Hill of Wales), 1999 (17-3 to Livermore Falls) and 2007 (7-3 to St. Dom’s).

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

 

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

 

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller

Scene from Searsport and Machias on June 19 in high school baseball. Zack Miller