Nova wins Zone 4 Legion title; Junior Legion, Babe Ruth teams also excel
The Deering High-populated Nova Seafood American Legion baseball powerhouse last week took one step closer to its sixth state championship in nine seasons by winning the Zone 4 championship and advancing to the state tourney.
Nova, ranked first, blanked No. 4 Morrill Post 13-0 (in seven innings) in the semifinals behind an overwhelming pitching performance from Taylor Candage and Luke Hammond and an 11-hit attack, then beat No. 3 Libby-Mitchell 13-3 (in seven innings) in the championship game, thanks to Regan Flaherty's stellar start and two RBI.
Nova will begin play in the eight-team, double-elimination state tournament Wednesday in Augusta with a game against the Zone 1 runner-up. Play continues through the weekend. The state champion advances to the regional tournament, held Aug. 6 through 10 in Manchester, N.H. The national tournament is Aug. 14 through 18 in Fargo, N.D.
Nova wasn't the only Portland-based baseball team to enjoy success in recent days.
In Junior Legion action, the top-ranked Deering team has cruised in its state tournament. Deering (12-4 in the regular season) was an 8-1 preliminary round winner over Libby-Mitchell (thanks to a no-hitter from Jake Nichols), then downed No. 4 Freeport Medical 9-6 in its first state tournament contest Sunday. Devon Fitzgerald had three hits and drove in a pair of runs. Deering faced No. 2 Coastal Athletics Monday (too late for print).
Portland's 14-year-old Babe Ruth team reached the championship round. After opening with a 7-0 triumph over Biddeford in the double-elimination tournament (behind a shutout from Caleb Fraser and three RBI from Nick Volger), Portland downed Tri-County East 9-3, but was relegated to the loser's bracket after falling 6-5 to Midcoast South. Sunday, Portland stayed alive with a 6-4 victory over Biddeford. Portland needed to beat Midcoast South twice Monday (too late for print) to win the title.
Portland's 15-year-old Babe Ruth team lost 10-5 to Biddeford and 11-6 to Midcoast North and was eliminated.