High school baseball

Impressive Medomak Valley transformation results in second playoff win

Panthers have won 15 of 18 games, earned spot in semifinals against No. 1 Ellsworth
By Ken Waltz | Jun 09, 2019
Photo by: Ken Waltz No. 4 Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer throws a pitch June 7 in a Class B North quarterfinal contest against No. 12 John Bapst of Bangor in Waldoboro. The host Panthers beat the visiting Crusaders 8-7.

Waldoboro — The growth in the Medomak Valley baseball program from one year to the next has been nothing short of remarkable.

After a 5-11 season in 2018, the Panthers have hit all the right notes — including starting the new campaign a step ahead with a highly-beneficial trip south — en route to a tremendous turnout and outstanding diamond success under third-year coach Greg Rice.

The Panthers continued their impressive transformation — aided by clutch hits, key defensive plays and consistent pitching — to grab a second straight Class B North playoff victory on Friday, June 7.

In a quarterfinal game, postponed a day due to unplayable field conditions 24 hours earlier, No. 4 Medomak Valley (15-4) outlasted No. 12 John Bapst of Bangor (8-10) in a competitive, back-and-forth affair amid glorious late-spring weather.

Watch video and see more photos below.

The Panthers used clutch hitting, standout plays in the field and the steady pitching of Ryan Creamer, one of their senior leaders, to forge a berth in the semifinals.

Medomak Valley had little time to savor the victory because the Panthers were back on the field less than 24 hours later when they played at No. 1 Ellsworth (17-1) on Saturday, June 8 in a semifinal clash, losing 6-0 (another story on that game appears elsewhere).

The Panthers also beat No. 13 Caribou (6-11) 8-2 in a prelim playoff, while Ellsworth downed No. 8 Lawrence of Fairfield (8-10) 5-2 in a quarterfinal affair. The Bulldogs had downed No. 5 Mount Desert Island (8-9) 1-0 in a prelim playoff game.

In Friday's quarterfinal clash, the Panthers led 4-1 at one point and the game was tied 5-5 before John Bapst led 7-5. Medomak Valley battled back to grab an 8-7 victory.

One of the key players for the home-standing Panthers was left fielder Eli McCollett, who had quite a day with a nice running, sliding catch, strong accurate throw to cutoff man Duncan Widdecombe, that resulted in a relay to catcher Max Moody to tag out a Crusader at the plate, and also came up with the game-winning hit.

Many others played important roles in the victory for the Panthers, including Carson Murphy with a clutch, early, two-run hit and a late crucial run.

Medomak Valley scored one run in the first inning, three in the second, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth, while John Bapst plated one in the second, four in the third and two in the fifth.

Leading the Panthers at the plate were Duncan Widdecombe (single, run), Creamer (2 runs), Murphy (2 singles, run, 2 RBIs), Jordan Powell (single, RBI), McCollett (single, RBI), Ethan Reed (3 singles, run), Kevin White (double, run) and Max Moody (single, 2 runs).

For the Crusaders, Alec Gagnon (run), Ben Spear (2 singles, run, RBI), Ethan Newcomb (2 singles, 2 runs, 2 stolen bases, RBI), Sam Harman (triple, 2 singles, 3 runs, 2 RBIs, stolen base), Ben Southwick (triple) and Jeff Hagstrom (double) paced the offense.

Creamer went the distance on the bump for Medomak Valley, as he allowed nine hits and one walk, with five strikeouts. Gagnon and Harman pitched for John Bapst, as the duo allowed 10 hits and five walks, with two strikeouts.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game," said Murphy. "They were the 12-seed, but they played a tougher schedule than most teams. We knew we had to come in and play well. We had our moments, but we got it done."

Eli McCollett said coming up with key offensive and defensive plays were things he will never forget.

"It feels amazing to be in this position and have the opportunity to play in a game like this. They were a real tough team. They play a good game. We need to clean some things up on the defensive end, but we found a way to get it done. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. You’re on top of the world [when you make a play like that in the field]. It feels awesome. The hit was a pretty big moment for me, because I’ve been struggling with the bat, and we found a way to get it done."

Creamer, who proved, as always, consistent on the mound and at the plate, said, "It feels very good. After making the playoffs sophomore year and losing to Ellsworth in the first round, and now we get to play them [in the semifinals], it’s a nice feeling. It was pretty tense [on the mound today] at times. We got the job done and held them to alright hits."

The senior said the team's preseason trip south also played a factor in the squad's success this spring.

"I think [the Florida trip] helped a lot. The weather here was rough. There was still snow on the ground up here when we were down there. Teams weren’t on the field here and we were down there playing games already. It’s a really good feeling [to go on a run in the playoffs]. The only other team to do this was basketball, and baseball hasn’t done it in a while."

Panther coach Greg Rice said he and others are simply trying to build the Panther program and see where Medomak Valley can go.

"We matched up against a team that is certainly much better than a 12-seed, that’s for sure," he said of John Bapst. "It’s a good ballclub over there. We got a little information on them. It’s hard to play teams from the Penobscot Valley Conference. We don’t have a lot of information to go by, but I conjured up what I could and the guys responded to it. I’m proud of the guys, I’m proud of Ryan. I think Ryan was laboring a little bit, but being a senior he wanted the ball."

The coach said the team made fine plays in the field and had key hits to pull out the victory.

"It’s the first real relay play we’ve had all year at the plate like that," he said of cutting down the late John Bapst run. "We hesitated a little bit. We haven’t worked on a lot of stuff without being outside for practices [due to so much rain this spring]."

He said the team's work in early Florida helped pave the way to a quick start and prolonged success.

"Our Florida trip is paying dividends for this team," Rice said. "I think a lot of people outside the baseball community don’t think we should be here right now based on our record last year. Our guys have bought in and this year we were looking to find out what a baseline looks like, and these guys are crossing that off the list. It’s exciting to get out of the cold and get on the baseball field early. The team-bonding piece, the camaraderie, having five games before the season started was a good jump start. We got to see more ground balls and fly balls before other teams did. Today if we played a little cleaner it would have been a little easier for us. We always seem to keep it interesting and make my heart race a little bit."

John Bapst at Medomak Valley baseball
Medomak Valley hosts John Bapst on June 7 in high school baseball in Waldoboro. (Video by: Zack Miller)
John Bapst's Ben Southwick, left, and Medomak Valley's Carson Murphy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
John Bapst's Ben Southwick, left, and Spencer Dieuveuil, middle, and Medomak Valley's Carson Murphy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
John Bapst's Alec Gagnon, left, and Medomak Valley's Gabe Allaire. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Gabe Allaire. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jordan Powell, front, and Adam Berry, back. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jordan Powell, front, and Adam Berry, back. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
From left, Medomak Valley's Jordan Powell, Duncan Widdecombe, coach Greg Rice and Gabe Allaire, among others. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Eli McCollett. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Duncan Widdecombe. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jordan Powell. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed, left, and Hayden Daigle. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Hayden Daigle, and John Bapst's Allen Wheaton. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Hayden Daigle. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Kevin White. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
From left, Medomak Valley's Adam Berry, Gabe Allaire, Duncan Widdecombe and Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jordan Powell. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Carson Murphy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Gabe Allaire. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Eli McCollett. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Eli McCollett. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Eli McCollett, left, and Carson Murphy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed, left, and John Bapst's Alec Gagnon. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Ethan Reed. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody, left, and John Bapst's Michael Shepard. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody, left, and Ryan Creamer, right, as well as John Bapst's Michael Shepard. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Jordan Powell. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Kevin White, left, and Carson Murphy. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Eli McCollett. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody, left, and Ryan Creamer. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Medomak Valley's Duncan Widdecombe, left, Ryan Creamer, middle, and Max Moody. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
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