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Young pastimers do well in state tourney
Members of the Cal Ripken 11U All Star team. From left in the front are Phillip Mills, Chase Thebarge, Garrett Garbarini, Will Sorensen, Ethan Laubauskas and Jacob Blanchard. In the back row are Coach Dan Garbarini, Jacob Sinclair, Alex Gorham, Coach Ryan Palmer, Jonah Downs, Keegan Davis and Coach Phil Mills.
SOUTH PARIS -- Last month, the Western Mountain 11U team competed in the 15-team state tournament and not disappoint.
In the opening game, WM played Sebago-Long Lake in a thriller, but came up a little short as Sebago walked off with the 8-7 win, with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
WM came out of the gate quickly with two runs in the top of the first, with back-to-back singles by Garrett Garbarini and Alex Gorham, a walk to Ethan Laubauskas loaded the bases. Two wild pitches by the Sebago pitcher plated Garbarini and Gorham. In the fourth, WM plated three runs on four straight singles by Will Sorensen, Jacob Blanchard, Phillip Mills and Chase Thebarge.
WM scored one run in the fifth and sixth inning, highlighted by a Keegan Davis triple and a double by Thebarge. The score was 7-4 in favor of WM going into the bottom of the sixth inning when things unraveled for WM, with three errors and a couple walks.
“We let this one slip away. It really put us in a hole because coming out of the losers bracket right off is never an easy task,” said Coach Ryan Palmer.
Thebarge, Garbarini and Gorham each had three hits apiece in the losing effort.
WM didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on their loss as they took the field again the next morning to face Berwick. An offensive explosion paved the away for WM to get their first win of the tourney. WM again scored two quick runs in the top of the first, led by a triple from Thebarge, singles from Gorham and Laubauskas, and a sac fly from Davis.
In the fourth inning, WM batted around the order. A seven-hit inning was led by doubles from Garbarini and Sorensen and a towering two-run homerun from Gorham.
“I’ve seen a lot of homers from little league aged kids over the years, but Gorham’s was an absolute bomb,” said Palmer.
WM scored two more times in the fifth. Jonah Downs walked to get things started and cruised to a 11-4 win, avoiding elimination. Thebarge and Gorham had three hits each and Gorham was the winning pitcher. After each game, the head scorekeeper and members of the protest committee selected a player of the game award. Gorham was the recipient for this game, going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. He also recorded five strikeouts in three innings on the mound.
In the third game of the tournament, WM played Bath and the offensive outburst continued, scoring nine runs in the first two innings, which allowed WM to save pitching in a convincing 14-4 win. Laubauskas and Thebarge shared pitching duties combining on a four hitter and striking out eight batters. Thebarge earned the player of the game award. going 4-for-4 from the plate with three RBI and two runs scored.
“Chase is a gamer. He will give you everything he has for six innings and is a very fundamentally sound baseball player. I’m glad he’s a Dirigo boy,” joked Palmer, who had fellow coaches Dan Garbarini and Phil Mills. Palmer led the Dirigo Cougars to a state championship this spring and Garbarini was the winning pitcher in the 1992 state championship when Mountain Valley defeated Ellsworth.
Sorensen and Gorham each had three hits on the game and Gorham hit yet another round tripper. Later that day, WM was looking to get revenge as they were matched up with Sebago again. After three innings WM trailed 9-2. However, a pep talk from the coaching staff turned things around. “I begged all 10 of them to give me every ounce of energy they had left in their bodies for another hour to see if we could mount a comeback,” said Palmer. The talk defiantly worked as WM batted around the order in each of the last three innings and rallied for the 15-11 victory.
WM exploded for 19 hits, including 14 of them in the last three innings. A leadoff single from Jacob Sinclair got things started in the six-run fourth. Garbarini was awarded player of the game for his performance at the plate, 2-2 with two walks and four runs scored. Garbarini's patience at the plate was evident during pivotal points in the fifth and sixth inning. Thebarge, Garbarini, Gorham, Laubauskas, Davis, Blanchard, Sinclair and Mills were all repeat hitters. The win sent WM into the final four of the tournament. WM faced a tough Mt. Ararat team and lost 15-0.
“I told the boys after the elimination game that the majority of these teams in this tournament have been playing together since the snow came off the fields,” said Palmer. “We put this team together a month ago. WM had approximately five practices, two scrimmages, so finishing in the final four of the state tourney in first year speaks volumes of the hard work and dedication these boys displayed.”
The highlight of the night was when the head scorekeeper and the protest committee got together and decided to give the player of the game award to the entire WM team for their display of good sportsmanship throughout the entire tournament.
“It was to bad we lost, but to see the entire team go out and get the trophy was priceless,” said Palmer with a smile. “Dan, Phil and I are really looking forward to coaching these boys as 12 year olds next year.”
The entire WM team and coaches would like to thank Bob Laubauskas and Rick Blanchard for serving on the protest committee. Also, a very big thank you to Roxanne Gorham for doing a lot of behind the scenes work to get this team eligible for the tournament.
The Western Mountain Cal Ripken League, in its first year of existence this summer, drew teams from Dixfield, Mexico, Peru, Rumford and Rumford Point.
The league, under the direction of Eddie Paterson, consisted of nine minor league teams (farm league) and eight major league teams (little league).