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Local all-stars team wins invitational
From left in the front row for the Western Mountain all-star team are Will Sorensen, Chase Thebarge, Garrett Garbarini, Jacob Blanchard and Ethan Laubauskas. In the middle are Cam Godbois, Keegan Davis, Jack Lavorgna, Jonah Downs and Alex Gorham. In the back row are Coach Dan Garbarini, Coach Bob Laubauskas and Coach Ryan Palmer.
REGION -- The Monmouth Invitational is a 12U baseball tournament that has existed for a number of years.
Each year, teams from all over the state come to this tournament. Even though this year the number of teams dwindled down to five, the best of the best were in town, led by this years champion Western Mountain (Dirigo/Mountain Valley).
Monmouth, River Valley (Tuner), AYS (Spruce Mountain) and Waterville rounded out the field. The champions had to come out of the losers bracket; playing 36 innings of baseball in two days.
In game one on Saturday, Western Mountain and Waterville played the longest game of the tournament, the game remained scoreless until Western Mountain scored two runs in the top of the eighth. WM held on for a 2-0 victory. Chase Thebarge led off the top of the eighth with a walk, then a sacrifice bunt attempt by Garrett Garbarini worked in WM's tide, resulting in an errant throw by the pitcher that got away from the first baseman, and set up a second and third situation with nobody out.
After a walk to Alex Gorham to load the bases, Ethan Laubauskas laced a two-run single to right field for the game winning hit. On the mound, Gorham and Laubauskas combined to strike out 11 Waterville batters.
“We knew before long that the top of our line-up would come through with a big hit,” said Western Mountain coach Ryan Palmer.
“We just didn’t expect it to be in the eighth inning.”
In game two, Western Mountain dropped a hard fought game to Monmouth 9-3. Flame throwing Jared Beckwith and his brother, Avery Beckwith (who played for Maranacook in the districts) were recruited by Monmouth for this tournament. Western Mountain was not surprised to see Jared Beckwith toe the rubber and come away with a dominating 11 strike out performance.
“This was our third time facing Jared,” said Western Mountain coach Dan Garbarini. "Each time we have gotten better against him, so we did have confidence. He just pitched a great game.”
They had a radar gun at the district tournament in Livermore. They clocked Beckwith at 70 MPH on several occasions. That’s about what you see on TV during the Little League World Series. Jonah Downs had a two-run single in the second and Garbarini had a triple in the third.
Having to play their third game of the day and drop to the losers bracket, Western Mountain had to face Waterville for the second time. Due to the strict pitching rules (12 innings for the tournament, six innings per day) both teams had to use their No. 3 and No. 4 pitchers. Western Mountain ran away with a 6-0 victory. Thebarge had two hits and scored three runs from the leadoff spot to lead W.M. Laubauskas, Garbarini and Keegan Davis each had RBI for W.M.
Pitching was the story in this game as Thebarge and Cam Godbois combined to only give up four hits in five innings of work. Laubauskas was eligible for one inning as he worked a perfect first.
“Having to play three games in one day is ridiculous in my opinion” said Coach Palmer, “For these kids to play all day in this heat and do what they did was remarkable.”
The next day, Western Mountain played River Valley for a chance to play Monmouth for the championship. Due to a dominating pitching performance by Laubauskas and a towering homerun that went over the scoreboard in center field by Gorham, Western Mountain held on for a 1-0 win. Laubauskas, Gorham, Davis and Downs each had hits for Western Mountain. Great defense by Jacob Blanchard and Jack Lavorgna helped in the winning cause.
This gave Western Mountain a chance to play Monmouth in the championship, but had to beat them twice. “We teetered with taking Ethan out in the sixth when he ran into trouble,” said Coach Garbarini. “He pitched out of two bases loaded jams, so it all worked out.”
Knowing Monmouth had to be beaten twice to claim the title, Western Mountain came our firing on all cylinders in game one of the championship. Gorham was dominant on the mound with a 12 strikeout performance and helped his own cause with a two-run homer in the first. Godbois also had a line drive homerun in the second. Will Sorensen and Blanchard each had doubles for WM. “It was a great all around win for us,” said Coach Garbarini. “We had good pitching, well executed defense and timely hitting.”
For the second time in as many days, WM had to play their third game of the day. But this time the stakes was higher. Knowing they would see Jared Beckwith once again and not having Gorham or Laubauskas to pitch, WM had to find production elsewhere.
WM erupted for seven runs in the third inning to shock Beckwith and Monmouth and come away with a 7-5 victory. Godbois threw four-plus innings to earn the win and Garbarini put the nail in the coffin to record the save.
“I knew before long we were bound to beat Beckwith,” said coach Palmer. “Did I think we would score seven runs on him? No, I didn’t. But we’ll take it.”
Sorensen was the lone repeat hitter for WM, however, they took advantage of many wild pitches and passed balls. WM also laid down several sacrifice bunts which took Beckwith out of his rhythm.
“Your not going to find a team in the state that plays with more heart then these boys do,” said coach Garbarini. “To play 36 innings in two days and still play at the caliber in which they played at the end was amazing to see.”
Western Mountain offers special thanks to Wayne Delano for financially backing the team during this tournament. He paid for the tournament fee, along with providing the boys with drinks and snacks throughout the weekend. It was greatly appreciated. Also, thanks to Bob Laubauskas for keeping the book and providing advice during the tournament.