To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

High school baseball

Left in on-deck circle: Vikings hoped to take swing at state title defense

Searsport players, coaches — brothers-in-arms — miss opportunity to compete for another crown
By Mark Haskell | May 10, 2020
Photo by: Mark Haskell Searsport's Josh Wright in action during the 2019 state Class D championship game at St. Joseph's College in Standish.

Searsport — There will be no afterschool practices or weekend doubleheaders. No deep playoff runs, regional or state titles or celebratory dinners at Applebee’s, which has become the Vikings' de-facto, go-to restaurant of choice after bringing home the hardware.

And, of late, Searsport District High School baseball, it seems, owns the hardware store.

The Vikings have won four of the last five state Class D diamond championships, either by the slimmest of margins or broadest of limits.

In fact, SDHS again, this spring, was prepared to use diligence, tradition and talent to try to defend its state crown, which had, of late, seemingly become an annual tradition.

However, the Maine Principals’ Association’s decision to cancel the high school pring sports season due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic derailed the Vikings’ championship train.

In 2019 and 2016, the Vikings won the state title against Central Aroostook of Mars Hill (11-0 in five innings) and Penobscot Valley of Howland (10-2) in convincing fashion by a combined score of 21-2.

In 2017 and 2015, the Vikings clinched the state crown against Bangor Christian and Stearns of Millinocket with dramatic, walk-off, extra-inning hits.

Liam MacMillan’s RBI-single led Searsport past the Minutemen with a 4-3 win in eight innings in 2015, while Mitchell Philbrook, not to be outdone, blasted a walk-off home run in the ninth inning of a 6-5 win over the Patriots in 2017.

Searsport also collected state Class C crowns in 1972, 1975, 2006, 2008, along with regional championships in 1981, 1999 and 2007.

But this season, the Vikings, like all Maine spring school athletic squads was benched.

Last year’s team graduated five seniors — including pitching ace Charlie Spiegel, who was a Mr. Baseball finalist — but had five more seniors this spring, in addition to a bevy of underclassmen, ready to continue the tradition and shoulder the load.

This season's Vikings were to include seniors Colby Snow, Daegan Moody, Steven Perkins, Spencer Philbrook and Dylan O'Brien; juniors Cody Reynolds, Gabe Kneeland and Isaias Therio; sophomores Josh Wright, Chase Brassbridge and Andrew Donald; and freshmen Nate Ashey, Cole Ellis, Gage Ellis, Brady Clements, Robert Walker and Sam Cahill.

But then it all seemingly went up in a puff of smoke.

“My first thought was shock that the seniors were not getting to defend their title and have their senior game to look forward to,” said Searsport head coach John Frye about the cancellation of the campaign. “And a couple of the seniors were going to be captains for first time. And there were going to be a few seniors getting their chance to play a lot bigger role in trying to get us another title. But after a while, I understand it's for the health of everybody and it's really building stronger families in the long run.”

Moody, a pitcher, catcher and outfielder for the Vikings said while the decision to cancel the season was upsetting, “there is nothing we can do.”

“I have said it before and I still believe it, the hardest part about this is not being able to defend the title with the boys,” he said. “We have woreked very hard to get where we are and we want to keep showing everyone that we can continue to be dominant.”

Senior third baseman and designated hitter Perkins, perhaps put it best — and most succinctly: “This sucks.”

“The MPA had a touch decision to make regarding the safety of the fans and players amid this outbreak,” he said. “My thoughts haven’t changed a month later, I just hope that next year’s seniors can have a season.”

“It is very heartbreaking,” said Philbrook, who would have seen time at second base this season for the Vikings. “I was really looking forward to putting my jersey on one last time and getting on the field. It would have been a great feeling to defend our state title my senior year.”

Assistant coach R.J. Robertson said the team had a nice schedule with many potential Heal Points to be had and, with the mild winter, “it appeared we were going to be able to get on the field early."

He added, “When schools started shutting down and going to remote learning, we knew it was inevitable that our season would be lost.”

“This school and our towns love baseball,” said Robertson. “We always get a ton of support from the community. We all know that basketball is the big sport in this state, but in Searsport, baseball is king. We have been spoiled with the amount of success we have achieved in the past five years, and the Class of 2020 has been a huge part of it.  It's really heartbreaking that these kids don't get another chance to play for their school and with their teammates.”

Snow and Moody were three-year starters and have received all-conference recognition, and would have been in the mix for top conference awards again this season, while Frye said, “it's really tough to see kids like Spencer Philbrook and Steven Perkins who were going to have their chance to be starters and captains after three years of being role players.”

“I know both of them were looking forward to this season,” said Frye. “Spencer I saw was putting in a lot of extra time for this season and to not have his chance really hurts him and his family and fellow teammates who wanted him to have a great year. And Steven has always been a great great guy on the bench to lead the younger players on what's expected. But this year it was time for him to be a captain on field and lead us to another title and celebration."

The veteran coach added that senior O’Brien “was going to help us this year at the plate and in the field” and “is the type of player I could play at many spots and he was looking forward to helping us win another title.”

“It sucks knowing that I will never put that jersey on again,” said Snow. “It feels like something I will never finish. But most importantly, I’m going to miss the friends and the brothers that I had on that field.”

Robertson agreed, adding “It’s not just the wins that make this program special, it’s also the relationships.”

“We are a pretty loose bunch and like to have fun,” Robertson said. “But when its time to get serious, they step up and we have accomplished great things. The kids are given a lot of freedom and they have thrived off that.”

“I really feel bad for these five seniors who have gave me and the team so much,” said Frye. “And for the rest of the team, hopefully this will make us want it so much more next year.”

If you enjoyed this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today. Call 207-594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join/. Donate directly to keep quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate or waldo.villagesoup.com/donate.

Searsport baseball coach John Frye, left, and grandson, Bentley, after the 2019 state Class D high school baseball championship game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport District High School — 2019 state Class D baseball champions. Front from left, Gabe Kneeland, Isaias Therio, Cody Reynolds, Chase Brassbridge, Charlie Spiegel, George Dakin, Josh Wright, Andrew Donald and Daegan Moody; and back, assistant coaches R.J. Robertson and Mel Grant, Hunter Treat, Spencer Philbrook, Dylan O'Brien, Colby Snow, Aaron Wiley, Isaiah Runci, Kaden Harriman, Steven Perkins, head coach John Frye Frye and assistant coach Otis Kneeland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport District High School — 2019 state Class D baseball champions. Searsport District High School — 2019 state Class D baseball champions. Front from left, Gabe Kneeland, Isaias Therio, Cody Reynolds, Chase Brassbridge, Charlie Spiegel, George Dakin, Josh Wright, Andrew Donald and Daegan Moody; and back, assistant coaches R.J. Robertson and Mel Grant, Hunter Treat, Spencer Philbrook, Dylan O'Brien, Colby Snow, Aaron Wiley, Isaiah Runci, Kaden Harriman, Steven Perkins, head coach John Frye Frye and assistant coach Otis Kneeland. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at waldo.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at waldo.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.