High school baseball

Thrice as nice: Vikings surge past Patriots to claim third straight state title

Mitchell Philbrook's walk-off homer in ninth proves difference for Searsport
By Mark Haskell | Jun 18, 2017
Photo by: Mark Haskell Mitchell Philbrook (holding trophy) and several other members of the Searsport baseball team salute its fans moments after winning the state Class D championship with a thrilling, 6-5, extra-inning win over Bangor Christian at St. Joseph's College in Standish. Philbrook hit a walkoff homerun in the ninth inning as the Vikings won their third straight state crown.

Standish — Searsport District High School senior Mitchell Philbrook had never hit a home run in his life.

Not in his backyard, or playing tee-ball. Not in Little League or Babe Ruth either.

Not only that, the Vikings, as a team, had not connected for a home run all season.

All that changed on Saturday, June 17 at Larry Mahaney Diamond as the Vikings squared off with Bangor Christian with the state Class D championship on the line.

With the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Philbrook grooved a 3-2 offering deep to left field that just cleared the fence, which sent his teammates, fans and family into euphoria — and ultimately, home with the coveted state championship in a thrilling 6-5, extra-inning victory.

The win propelled Searsport (17-3) to its third straight state championship, as they also won the crown during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

And the Vikings won their third straight championship against a Bangor Christian (14-6) team that prior to them, also three-peated as Class D champs from 2012-14.

Click for photos from the state championship game.

Watch video below.

See more photos below.

Team members for the reigning state champions include Spencer Philbrook, Daegan Moody, Isaiah Runci, Lucas Hendrickson, George Dakin, Barrett Grant, Colby Snow, Ben Powell, Steven Perkins, Cameron Watt, Kadan Harriman, Mitchell Philbrook, Charlie Spiegel and Liam MacMillan. The Vikings are coached by John Frye and assisted by Mel Grant and R.J. Robertson.

Team members for Bangor Christian include Josh Palmeter, Jackson York, Dean Grass, Erik Gorczok, Tyler Welch, Cody Porter, Johnathan Cormier, Wyatt Gogan, Matthew Chretien, Luke Chandler, Brady Reed, Oakley Dugans, Calvin Mercier, Kaeden Robert, Tyler Lehman, Danny Palmeter, Robbie DeRoche, Dacian Robert, Tyler Libby, Eli Reed, Adam Ford and Jeremiah McNally. The Patriots are coached by Tim Collins and assisted by Travis Doughty and Cody Collins.

Mitchell Philbrook reached base five times in Saturday’s win with the game-winning home run, a double, a single, an intentional walk and fielder’s choice batting out of the number four hole for the Vikings.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Philbrook. “Many nights and days practicing and practicing all the way up through with my teammates, my dad, everyone. The dream is to be here and win, and I thank God for us to win. This is just awesome.”

“No words can describe the feeling,” said Frye. “It doesn’t get old I know that. This group of kids have worked hard all year right from the first day of practice. Now the freshmen were coming up big and Mitchell just carrying us offensively all year. He hit over .600 and this was probably the biggest hit of his career just now.”

Also chipping in on offense for Searsport in Saturday's state final was Grant (run, stolen base), Snow (single, run), Spiegel (single, run), Powell (single, run, stolen base, 3 RBIs) and MacMillan (single, 2 RBIs).

For Bangor Christian, Grass (double, 2 singles, 2 runs, 2 stolen bases), Josh Palmeter (single, run), Cormier (single, 2 RBIs), Gorczok (2 singles, run), Gogan (double, single, 2 RBIs, run) and York (single, RBI) paced the offense.

Spiegel went 3 2/3 innings on the hill for Searsport and allowed seven hits and one walk, with two strikeouts. Grant was sensational on the hill in relief and tossed 83 pitches, went 5 1/3 innings, yielded three hits and four walks (2 intentional), with five strikeouts.

Grass, interestingly a Waldo County native and multi-sport standout in the Belfast-area youth leagues, went the first four frames for Bangor Christian and Josh Palmeter the final five as the duo combined to allow seven hits and five walks (2 intentional), with four strikeouts.

Saturday’s nine-inning affair was anything but a cakewalk for the Searsport, which trailed throughout and did not lead once in the game until Philbrook’s game-winning home run cleared the fence.

In fact, for much of the game, things looked rather bleak for the Vikings.

Bangor Christian scored four of its five runs in the first inning and added another in the fourth, while Searsport scored one in the first, before tacking on two more in the sixth and seventh frames — including a tremendous two-out rally in the seventh that led to Powell tying the game on a two-run single to right — and adding one more in the ninth on Philbrook’s solo blast.

Philbrook said he had hit a few home runs in practice before, but never in a game.

“I’ve had quite a few that have gone off the wall at home, or the wind killed it,” he said. “And I’m thinking ‘Ehhh, it’s probably not going to make it.’ But I saw the left fielder keep going back and back and back and I just thought, ‘Oh man please get out’ and it got out. I still can’t believe it. I’m still in shock. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

The Patriots got their first two batters of the game — Grass and Josh Palmeter — aboard on errors, while Cormier plated Grass on a groundout to put them up 1-0 early. Gorczok singled later in the frame and both he and Josh Palmeter were doubled home by Gogan — who was later singled home by York — as Bangor Christian took a 4-0 lead before a Searsport batter even approached the plate to bat.

The Vikings quickly loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame when Grant and Snow each drew walks and Spiegel was hit by a pitch, though only Grant was able to cross the plate — on a groundout by Powell — as Searsport trailed 4-1.

The Patriots added an insurance run in the fourth when Grass rapped a double and was singled home by Cormier. The score stayed 5-1 for much of the contest, but the tide began to turn for the Vikings when Grass — who had only allowed only one hit on the hill to that point — was pulled after four innings in favor of Josh Palmeter.

Going into the bottom of the fourth inning, assistant coach Mel Grant gathered his team and gave them a message:

“They won the first half of this game,” he said to the Vikings of the Patriots. “And we’re going to win the second half.”

“Mel has had these kids all the way from Little League all the way to now as the third-base coach,” said Frye. “He’s a great coach, he knows his baseball and he’s coached all these kids. He’s a great motivator.”

The Viking bats came to life in the sixth as Philbrook doubled and Powell hit a shot right at the shortstop Grass as Philbrook motored by to third base.

Grass pursued Philbrook in an attempt to tag him out at third, but the senior beat him to the bag to put runners at the corners.

After Powell stole second base, MacMillan, a left-handed hitter, ripped a two-run single up the middle to put the Vikings closer at 5-3.

The clutch hitting continued in the seventh — eventually — for Searsport as Josh Palmeter retired the first two batters as Bangor Christian was one out away from its fourth state title in six seasons.

Snow — down to his final strike — singled to right field and Spiegel followed suit with a single to left.

After Bangor Christian intentionally walked Philbrook to load the bases — to put a force play at any base — Powell came through with a two-out, two-run single to right as Snow and Spiegel scampered home, to knot the score 5-5.

“When Ben went to the plate I just said, ‘Ben just relax and have fun,’ ” said Frye. “And he said ‘Coach, I’ve got this one for you.’ He just said hop on my back and I’m going to tie this thing up. And I can’t believe he did it.”

Both teams went quietly in the eighth — and ultimately so did the Patriots in the top of the ninth — which set the stage for Philbrook’s heroics.

The Vikings also got a head's-up defensive play in the ninth when it appeared Chretien was going to reach on an error as the ball went through MacMillan's legs at first base.

Runci, the second baseman who had a clutch hit in Tuesday's regional final, backed up MacMillan on the play and fired to pitcher Grant — who covered the bag — for the first out of the inning.

“We just chipped away,” said Frye. “This group just never gives up. They know until the last out is made, they have a chance.”

Searsport, the top seed in Class D South, bested No. 8 Valley of Bingham 9-2 in the quarterfinals, No. 5 Buckfield 13-1 in five innings in the semifinals and defeated No. 2 Richmond 6-2 in the regional championship to advance to Saturday’s state title game.

Bangor Christian, the number two seed in Class D North, defeated No. 7 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook 13-3 in the quarterfinals, bested No. 6 Shead of Eastport 9-1 in the semifinals and knocked off previously unbeaten and top-seeded Fort Fairfield 9-3 in the regional final to advance to Saturday’s state championship game.

Searsport now has six state titles to its credit, winning Class C crowns in 1972, 1975 and 2006 and Class D titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The Vikings also finished state runners-up in 1981, 1999 and 2007.

Ironically, Searsport and Bangor Christian are separated by 50 miles in Eastern Maine, but had to travel several hours and more than 100 miles to Standish Saturday to compete against one another in the state final.

Searsport versus Bangor Christian baseball
Searsport and Bangor Christian play on June 17 in the state Class D high school baseball championship game at St. Joseph's College in Standish. (Video by: Zack Miller of VStv)
Searsport assistant coach Mel Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Several Searsport players, including Charlie Spiegel (center), clap during Bangor Christian's player introductions. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport players are introduced prior to Saturday's game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Bangor Christian's Dean Grass (3). (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Colby Snow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Barrett Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Members of the Searsport baseball team chat with coaches between innings. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Ben Powell. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Isaiah Runci. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Liam MacMillan and Bangor Christian's Wyatt Gogan (8). (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Colby Snow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Bangor Christian's Dean Grass. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
(Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport coaches and players chat on the mound during a conference on the mound. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Liam MacMillan. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Daegan Moody. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Barrett Grant, along with coaches Mel Grant and R.J. Robertson chat between innings. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Barrett Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook gets taped up at third base by an athletic trainer. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Ben Powell. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Ben Powell. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Ben Powell (15) and Mitchell Philbrook. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Barrett Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Colby Snow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel scampers home in front of Bangor Christian's Jackson York. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel celebrates after crossing home plate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel celebrates after crossing home plate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel celebrates after crossing home plate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel celebrates with teammate Colby Snow after crossing home plate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
(Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Colby Snow and Charlie Spiegel (25). (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Charlie Spiegel (25) and Colby Snow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Isaiah Runci and Bangor Christian's Dean Grass. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Colby Snow. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook and assistant coach Mel Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook and assistant coach Mel Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook approaches home plate, surrounded by teammates. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook approaches home plate, surrounded by teammates. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport coach John Frye in the midst of the championship celebration at home plate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport players mob teammate Mitchell Philbrook after his game-winning home run. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook embraces a teammate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook embraces a teammate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook embraces a teammate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook embraces a teammate. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Barrett Grant and coach Mel Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook collapses in exhaustion on the ground in front of his father and teammate Lucas Hendrickson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook and his father share a moment after Saturday's game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook along with coaches R.J. Robertson and Mel Grant. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport players mob teammate Mitchell Philbrook after his game-winning home run. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Liam MacMillan, Mitchell Philbrook and Cameron Watt. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Liam MacMillan, Mitchell Philbrook and Cameron Watt. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The state Class D championship trophy. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Searsport's Mitchell Philbrook. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The Searsport baseball team holds its up its state Class D championship trophy after Saturday's game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The Searsport baseball team holds its up its state Class D championship trophy after Saturday's game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The Searsport baseball team holds its up its state Class D championship trophy after Saturday's game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The Searsport baseball team holds its up its state Class D championship trophy after Saturday's game. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The three-time state Class D baseball champion Searsport Vikings. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The three-time state Class D baseball champion Searsport Vikings. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
The three-time state Class D baseball champion Searsport Vikings. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
Email Me

Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts and time with friends and family.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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