Three north area baseball teams entertaining title dreams
While the perennially strong Greely Rangers figure to be right in the mix for a Western Class B title and Yarmouth will be heard from as well, perhaps the most compelling local baseball story this spring was penned by the North Yarmouth Academy Panthers, who have enjoyed their finest campaign since moving up to Class C.
NYA won 11 of 16 games this season, capped the year on a three-game winning streak and earned the No. 7 seed for the playoffs. Tuesday (too late for print), the Panthers hosted No. 10 Madison (6-10) in the preliminary round of the playoffs.
NYA and Madison have no playoff history and don't meet in the regular season. If the Panthers held serve and advanced to the quarterfinals, they will go to No. 2 Hall-Dale (12-3) Thursday. NYA and Hall-Dale have never met on the diamond.
In Western B, Greely dropped two of its final three games (including an 8-3 setback at Cape Elizabeth last Wednesday, please see Web site for more on that contest) to wind up 12-4 and fourth in the final Heal Points standings.
As a result, the Rangers will host No. 5 York (10-6) in the quarterfinals Thursday afternoon. On May 1, Greely went to York and slugged its way to an 18-8 victory behind a school-record six home runs. Senior Nate Martin went deep twice and classmate Kevin Hart hit a grand slam.
Despite being longtime Western Maine Conference rivals, the Rangers and Wildcats have never met in the playoffs.
If Greely wins Thursday, it will likely get another crack at top-ranked Cape Elizabeth (12-4) in the semifinals. The Rangers lost both regular season meetings with the Capers, but will hope the third time's a charm.
"Based on the regular season, we know we can beat or get beaten by anyone," said Greely coach Derek Soule. "The key for us to have success in the postseason is to throw strikes and play more consistent defense."
Yarmouth is also a factor in the region, even after an up-and-down 8-8 regular season. The Clippers earned the No. 7 seed and hosted No. 10 Gray-New Gloucester (8-8) in Tuesday's preliminary round (played too late for print).
On May 20, Yarmouth cruised to a 12-4 win at Gray. The last time the teams met in the playoffs was 2002 (a 7-4 win for the Patriots in the quarterfinals).
If the Clippers won Tuesday, they'd go to No. 2 Mountain Valley (13-1) for the quarterfinal round Thursday. Yarmouth doesn't play the Falcons in the regular season, but just a year ago, the Clippers won 6-4 in Rumford in the preliminary round.
Elsewhere in Western B, Falmouth (7-9) and Freeport (2-14) failed to qualify for the postseason.
Looking ahead, the semifinals are Saturday on the field of the higher remaining seed. The Western B Final is Tuesday of next week at St. Joseph's College. First pitch is 3 p.m. The Western C Final will be played next Wednesday at St. Joe's at 7 p.m. The Class B state game is also at St. Joe's, on Saturday, June 20. The starting time is 5 p.m. The Class C state game is in Bangor on June 20, beginning at 2 p.m.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com.