Good times roll on for local baseball squads
Whether you follow American Legion, Junior Legion or Babe Ruth baseball, teams from the city of Portland have delivered the goods.
On Monday, the Deering High-populated Nova Seafood American Legion baseball powerhouse won its sixth state championship in nine seasons.
Nova's duplicated the accomplishment of the Deering Junior Legion squad, which won the state title last week.
Then, there is the Portland Babe Ruth 14-year-old team which was on the brink of elimination last week, only to dramatically beat Midcoast South twice to win the state championship and advance to the regional tournament.
More of the same
While Deering has gone about winning title after Class A state title, its players have made Nova Seafood into the best American Legion squad in the state and on one memorable occasion (2004) the finest in the nation. This year's team has proved to be a fitting heir.
After capturing the Zone 4 title, Nova got busy dominating at the state tournament, which began in Augusta, then was moved to Wainwright Field in South Portland due to unplayable field conditions.
Nova got a test in its opener last Wednesday against Hampden, but pulled out a 6-4 decision behind Matt Watson's tie-breaking home run. Matt Powers earned the win in relief. After two days of rain, Nova pummeled Gardiner 27-4 (Taylor Candage had five RBI and four runs scored), then cruised into the championship round Sunday by virtue of an 18-1 romp over Smith-Tobey of Bath (Watson homered and drove in three) and a 15-2 drubbing of Bangor (Candage dominated on the hill and Sam Balzano went deep). Monday, Nova wrapped up the championship with a 11-3 victory over Smith-Tobey, breaking open a tight game in the late innings. Watson was named MVP.
Nova will being regional tournament play Thursday in Manchester, N.H. The national tournament is Aug. 14 through 18 in Fargo, N.D.
In Junior Legion action, top-ranked Deering capped its run to the state title last Monday with a 6-4 win over Coastal Athletics of Cape Elizabeth. Nick DiBiase drove in the go-ahead run. Deering advanced to the Northeast Regional, which begins Aug. 14 in Linden, N.J.
Best for last
Portland's 14-year-old Babe Ruth team had its back to the wall last Monday, but won the state championship by downing Midcoast South twice in Westbrook. First, Portland rallied from a 4-0 deficit to pull out a dramatic 5-4 triumph, thanks to a three-run, fifth inning rally. The winning run (Nick Volger) came home on a passed ball. Nate Smart overcame a tough first inning and earned the win.
Portland then beat Midcoast South 6-0 in the winner-take-all affair. Caleb Fraser threw a two-hitter and fanned seven. Volger drove in the first run and was named tournament most valuable player.
Portland begins New England Regional tournament play Thursday in West Warwick, R.I., when it faces the champion of Rhode Island. Double-elimination play continues through Tuesday.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org