The Cinderella story of Maine high school baseball this season, the Freeport Falcons, entered the Class B state championship game on a tear, winners in eleven of their last twelve. In that span, the Falcons’ pitching staff gave up just thirteen runs over 82 innings, an ERA of 1.11. They had not given up more than two runs in any game, having given up just four runs during their magical playoff run.
Then they ran into the Old Town offense.
The Coyotes ripped out thirteen hits, and, helped by four errors from a normally sturdy Freeport defense, poured out twelve runs, shellacking the Falcons 12-2 in just five innings. The ‘walk-off’ game on a two-run double from Austin Sheehan, the lone extra-base hit of the day for the Coyotes. Eight of nine batters reached base twice for the Coyotes(19-1), ranked #1 in Class B North. It was the first title for Old Town, who had reached the title game twice before, in Class A. For Freeport, their magical run as the #7 seed in Class B South ended, as they failed to knock off a top seed for the second straight game. The Falcons, who had not triumphed in a playoff game since 1985, won four games to reach this point, including victories over York, Greely, and Cape Elizabeth, the #2, 3, and top seeds respectively.
Freeport jumps out to an early lead
The Falcons got off to a dream start in their first state championship game, tallying two runs in the first inning, eliciting loud cheers from a huge crowd that had followed their squad two hours north for the finale of this program-defining run. Junior captain Max Doughty worked a six-pitch walk to begin the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Shortstop Jack Davenport, the winning pitcher in Freeport’s regional title clincher, was intentionally walked to bring up sophomore catcher and cleanup hitter Colby Wagner. Wagner stroked a single to right field and the speedy Doughty beat the throw home with a headfirst slide for a 1-0 Falcons lead. Pitcher Joshua Burke helped his cause with a long sacrifice fly, extending the Freeport lead to two runs as Davenport crossed the plate.
Old Town jumps all over Freeport
Although Freeport looked in good position, seeing as they had not given up more than two runs in a game since May 9th, the Coyotes had something to say about that. Sophomore Josh Burke took the mound for the third time in the playoffs, boasting a 2-0 record and just one run allowed in twelve innings. However, Old Town jumped right on the young righty, starting the first inning with four straight singles. Ryan Hoogterp started the rally with a single followed by a bunt single from Drew Coulombe. Hoogterp alertly advanced to an uncovered third base on the play, allowing him to score easily on pitcher Ethan Stoddard’s RBI single. Catcher Cole Daniel tied the game with another single and Old Town never looked back. Jacob Ketch lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, giving the Coyotes a lead they would not relinquish. Old Town used some odd baserunning to score another run in the first inning. With runners on the corners, Austin Sheehan wandered off first base, walking towards second base, drawing a step-off from Burke. Burke tossed to second base, but, meanwhile, Daniel sprinted for home. Freeport threw late to home plate, allowing Sheehan to take second while Daniel scored the fourth run of the inning. Burke struck out Troy Crawford to end the inning with the Falcons down 4-2.
However, the Coyotes weren’t finished at the plate. After a caught stealing call nullified a potential Freeport threat in the second inning, Old Town went right back at it in the second inning, sending ten men to the plate while lighting up the scoreboard for another four runs, all unearned tallies off of Freeport’s sophomore hurler. Nick Swift reached on the first error of the day for Freeport, a throwing mistake that allowed Swift to take second base. A walk and a strikeout followed, bringing Stoddard back to the plate. Stoddard continued to help his cause, lining another single to score the fifth run of the day for the Coyotes. Daniel hit a hard hopper off a Freeport glove that was ruled an infield single to load the bases, loading the bases with one out. Burke did all he could, inducing a potential double-play ground ball that was botched by the Freeport defense, rolling into the outfield for two Old Town runs and an five run lead. Kaleb Gifford tacked on an RBI single later in the frame, ending the day for Burke, who gave up only four earned runs, but eight overall. Reliever Austin Langley escaped the rest of the inning unscathed, but the Falcons trailed 8-2.
Old Town ‘walks off’ to end game early
Despite the increasingly large deficit, Freeport’s large cheering crowd stayed large and proud throughout the game. Freeport had some bad luck in the top of the third, when, with one on and one out, Davenport ripped a single between first and second. However, the hard-struck ground ball bounced off the runner, recording an out for the Coyotes in the inning. Stoddard induced a pair of fly outs to end the inning. Old Town tacked on two more runs in the third inning, taking advantage of some wildness by Langley. A single and hit batter began the inning, before a double play reduced the threat to just a man on third with two outs. However, Daniel drew a walk, leading to another strange run-scoring play for the Coyotes. Daniel reached first base but kept on going, strolling towards second rather casually. Freeport got Daniel in a rundown but then threw home in an attempt to nail Hoogterp at the plate. The throw was too late, the run scored, and Daniel advanced to second, allowing him to score on Ketch’s subsequent single for a 10-2 Old Town lead.
Stoddard continued to do his part for the Coyotes, setting down the Falcons on eight pitches in the fourth inning, making it five straight batters retired by the Old Town hurler. The Coyotes failed to score in the fourth inning off of the third Freeport pitcher of the day, Josh Spaulding. It was the only goose egg they put on the scoreboard all day. The Falcons threatened in the fifth inning, putting runners on first and second with one out, but Stoddard fanned the dangerous Davenport and induced an inning-ending fly out, setting the stage for the game-ending inning in the fifth. The inning started innocently, with a one hopper back to Spaulding for out number one. However, Freeport’s fourth error of the day allowed another runner to reach base, followed by a walk. Spaulding got a strikeout, setting up a two on and two outs all day. The likelihood of both runs scoring on that at bat was unlikely, as Old Town, despite all their offensive success, had not collected an extra base hit yet to that point. However, Austin Sheehan bucked that trend, blasting a two-run double to right-center field, setting off the Coyotes’ celebrations.