Orono defeats Washington Academy in C North baseball title game
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
BANGOR, Maine — Javier Alicea-Santiago was hoping to get a chance at redemption. The Orono High School junior third baseman made a throwing error in the sixth inning that allowed the tying run to score and set the stage for Washington Academy to take the lead with a four-run rally in Thursday night’s Class C North baseball championship game at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Alicea-Santiago received his opportunity in the seventh inning and he delivered a game-winning single with one out to cap a two-run rally and give Orono a 5-4 victory for its third regional title in four years.
There was no baseball season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was glad to make up for it. I love these seniors,” Alicea-Santiago said. “I didn’t want this to be their last game.
“I knew I needed to make up for that somehow and I’m glad I did.”
Top seed Orono (16-3) plays Monmouth Academy in Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. state final at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.
Sixth seed Washington Academy of East Machias wound up 13-6.
Caleb Ryder started the seventh-inning rally by drawing a walk and stealing second. Hard-throwing WA righty Cecil Gray struck out Zack Dill but reached the 110-pitch limit and had to come out.
Carson Prout replaced him and Cam Shorette lined an opposite-field single to left to deliver Ryder.
“I knew my time was coming and I just executed,” said Shorette, who went the other way with an outside pitch and laced it.
Shorette stole second and Jordan Cota walked.
Prout was replaced by Brian Dennison and Alicea-Santiago rifled a single to left to win it.
“My teammates were telling me to be patient and to just pick [a pitch] out that I liked, said Alicea-Santiago, who missed several regular-season games with a knee injury.
“It was a fastball inside and I turned on it real nice.”
WA coach Rich Olivares said the leadoff walk was the turning point of the inning because it elevated Gray’s pitch count.
“We have confidence in our bullpen. We called on some young kids. They got the job done for us all year but today we got the ball up a little bit and they hit it,” he said.
“I was hoping to get two outs,” said Gray, who was named the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C Pitcher of the Year. He struck out eight and allowed six hits and four runs.
Washington Academy erased a 3-0 deficit with four sixth-inning runs on four hits and three Orono errors.
Ryder, featuring a nice slider, had two-hit the Raiders through five innings.
Tristan Hicks reached on an infield single and Gray poked an opposite-field single into short right field. Dennison followed with a bunt single to load the bases.
Jack Emery’s sacrifice fly scored Hicks and Prout poked a run-scoring single to right to make it 3-2. Gray raced to third on Prout’s single and Prout eventually stole second to put runners on second and third.
Tabor Helton grounded to Alicea-Santiago, who rushed his throw to the plate and bounced it for an error, allowing Gray to score.
Prout scored on Ryder’s errant pickoff throw to first to give WA the lead.
He was replaced by Dill, who pitched out of the jam and hurled a scoreless seventh to notch the win.
The Red Riots took a 3-0 lead with single runs in the first, second and fifth innings.
Zach Needham lined Gray’s first pitch of the game into right-center, stole second with one, took third on a wild pitch and scored when Dill fisted a soft single to left.
In the second, Alicea-Santiago drew a one-out walk. Pinch-runner Caden Gray stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Ellis Spaulding flared a single to center.
Jason DeSisto drew a one-out walk in the fifth, stole second and continued to third on a throwing error, then scored on Ryder’s sacrifice fly.
Dill, Shorette and Spaulding each posted two singles for Orono, which stole six bases.
Gray and Helton had two singles each for Washington Academy.