June 13, 2012

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Messalonskee wins 1st Eastern A title

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- After losing at Brewer on May 12, the Messalonskee High School baseball team held a team meeting. The Eagles were 5-5, and felt like they were underachieving.

click image to enlarge

COMING HOME AGAIN: Messalonskee High School’s Reid Nutter slides safely into home plate during the Eagles’ 13-2 win over Lewiston in the Eastern Maine Class A championship game Tuesday at Morton Field in Augusta.

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CLOSE PLAY: Messalonskee High School’s Travis St. Pierre is tagged at home plate by Lewiston High School’s Shawn Ricker during the Eagles’ 13-2 win in the Eastern Maine Class A championship game Tuesday in Augusta.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

"We were 5-5, and we had a really good team discussion, to kind of let things vent out," Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. "Right from then, we went on the win streak. After that fifth loss, they woke up and realized, 'Hey, we're better than this.' "

Now the entire state knows how good Messalonskee is. On Tuesday afternoon at Morton Field, the Eagles dominated a very good Lewiston team, taking a 13-2 win to earn their first Eastern A title.

It was the ninth straight win for Messalonskee (14-5), which will face Scarborough (17-2) in the Class A state championship game, Saturday at noon at St. Joseph's College in Standish. Lewiston ends the season at 15-4.

Lewiston beat Messalonskee 9-2 on April 20, the second game of the season.

"We overwhelmed them the first time we played them, and they came back and overwhelmed us today," Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli said.

Knowing they would face Lewiston's hard-throwing lefty ace Corbin Hyde, the Eagles took batting practice Monday from a pair of Messalonskee alumni pitching in college, Chris Farrar of Thomas and Nate Veilleux of the University of Southern Maine. The pair mimicked Hyde's speed well.

"He's not unhittable, and we knew that," said Messalonskee leadoff hitter Jake Dexter, who hit a pair of doubles, drove in four runs, and scored twice. "We knew we had to get to (Hyde). We committed to just getting on base and doing whatever we had to do to score runs."

Travis St. Pierre's sacrifice fly to center field scored Dexter in the top of the first to give Messalonskee a 1-0 lead. In the third, St. Pierre hit a two-run double to deep center.

"You just get a good pitch and a good swing, and I just put everything I had into that one," St. Pierre said. "Hardest ball I probably hit in my life."

The Eagles chased Hyde, a finalist for the John Winkin Award as the state's top player, in the top of the fourth inning. Reid Nutter led off with an infield single and scored on Zach Mathieu's double. When Josh Woodard singled to score Mathieu, Messalonskee had a 5-0 lead, and Cifelli went to Matt Bowen.

"I loved their approaches at the plate," Cifelli said. "Corbin had some good stuff today, and Bowen threw some good pitches. They laid back and drove the baseball. They had some pop today. I don't want to hear about BBCOR bats."

The Eagles got to Bowen for four runs, and four more off Eddie Emerson, who took the mound for the Blue Devils with one out in the sixth inning.

All Lewiston could muster offensively was a pair of unearned runs, one in the fifth and another in the seventh. Reid Nutter started and went 4 1/3 innings for Messalonskee. As he was in a quarterfinal win over Oxford Hills, Nutter was effectively wild, giving up three hits and five walks while striking out four.

"He pitched with some confidence, and kept getting leadoff guys out," Cifelli said. "I'm not going to sulk and say it was our offense. It's a credit to Nutter."

Patrick Breton relieved Nutter in the fifth and worked out of a minor jam. Jake Dexter pitched the seventh for the Eagles.

Nate Berube had three hits for Lewiston and drove in both Blue Devil runs.

Every member of the Messalonskee starting lineup reached base at least once. Gage Landry, Messalonskee's No. 9 hitter, had three hits and scored three runs. Woodard, the No. 8 hitter, had two hits and drove in three runs.

Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242



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