Timely hits key late rally as Old Town knocks off Camden HillsNo. 8 Coyotes sneak past No. 4 Windjammers, earn finals berth
Rockport — The past few months, Old Town has proven to possess top-notch student-athletes, evident by the school's improbable run to its first state Class B boys basketball championship.
The Coyotes, the No. 8 team in this spring's Eastern Class B baseball playoffs, could well be on their way to another lofty athletic achievement.
Fourth-seeded Camden Hills held a lead for much of the regional semifinal playoff game between the squads on Monday, June 16, but Old Town plated five unanswered runs in the final two frames and surged into the title game with a 5-2 victory.
The semifinal game was postponed from June 14 due to wet field conditions.
Old Town has had a tough road to forge in this year's diamond postseason as the Coyotes defeated No. 9 John Bapst of Bangor (8-9) 3-2 in the preliminary round, knocked off No. 1 Waterville (14-3) 6-3 in the quarterfinals and higher-ranked Camden Hills (14-5) in the semifinal.
The Coyotes (12-7) will face No. 7 Caribou (13-6) for the Eastern Class B championship on Wednesday at 7 p.m in Bangor.
While it may seem strange for the eighth and seventh seeds to square off for Eastern Class B's richest prize, it is nothing new for Old Town and Caribou.
The two teams were the sixth and fourth seeds, respectively, and squared off for the regional title in boys basketball as well as Old Town went on to win the state crown.
Leading the Windjammers at the plate Monday were Aubrey Pennington (single, 2 runs), Ben Rollins (single), Michael Wolff (single) and Joe Chamberlain (single).
For Old Town, Zack Miller (2 singles, run), Eric Hoogterp (single, run), Kaleb Gifford (single) and Garvey Melmed (single) paced the offense.
Connor Graffam pitched into the sixth inning for Camden Hills and was relieved later by Sam Berry and Daulton Wickenden. Graffam allowed five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. Graffam, Berry and Wickenden combined to hit five batters.
Melmed and Hoogterp pitched for Old Town, as the duo allowed a combined four hits and five walks, with six strikeouts.
“I thought we missed a couple opportunities early,” said Camden Hills coach Jeff Hart. “We left some runners on and those would have been pretty nice to have and make it 4-0 or something like that. But they had some key hits in big moments and we didn't so they're going to move on and play [Wednesday].”
Old Town coach Brad Goody, who said “six or seven” of his players were on that state championship basketball team, said his players “never quit.”
“They never say die,” he said. “It kind of started in basketball they were the number six seed and they rode that to the end and a lot of those same kids are living by the same motto: To the ship.”
Camden Hills took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Pennington walked, stole second and came around on an RBI-single by Wolff. The hosts added to their lead in the fifth when Pennington singled, stole second and scored his second run of the game — this time on an RBI-single by Rollins.
However, the Coyotes did not quit as they turned a shortstop-to-second baseman-to first baseman (6-4-3) double play to end the bottom of the fifth inning, which seemed to kickstart their momentum in the top of the sixth.
Tyler Byther started the frame with a lead walk while Hoogterp later singled to put runners at the corners. Miller then plated Byther with an RBI-single to cut the Camden Hills lead to 2-1.
Braden Upshaw was hit by a pitch later in the inning, which loaded the bases for Old Town. Melmed then ripped a two-run single to give Old Town a 3-2 advantage, while Gifford later added an RBI-single to put the eighth-seed up by two runs.
Old Town added an insurance run with an RBI-single by Miller in the top of the seventh. Berry hit two consecutive batters to start the top of the inning for Camden Hills, while Wickenden, who relieved Berry, promptly hit a batter as well to load the bases for Miller.
“Graffam threw extremely well,” said Goody of the senior Windjammer hurler. “Looked like he was getting a little tired out there [toward the end] and we got some timely hits and a couple walks. It was very exciting.”
Graffam is one of 10 seniors on this year's Windjammer squad, a group that coach Hart is sad to see leave the school and, ultimately, diamond.
“Tough day to watch that happen,” said Hart. “They've been outstanding. Good ballplayers, good citizens and good leaders. It's tough to watch them walk out of here. Everybody wanted to play one more game. You always want to play one more, but it wasn't meant to be.”
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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, Foo Fighters and time with friends and loved ones.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.
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