Late rally sends Fort Fairfield baseball team past Katahdin, into ‘D’ championship game
FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — The Fort Fairfield Tigers overcame a rocky start by senior right-hander Isaac Cyr and came from behind to score four times in the bottom of the fifth inning to defeat Katahdin of Stacyville 6-5 in the Class D North semifinal baseball game Saturday afternoon.
“We live for these type of games,” said Tigers senior center fielder Malcolm Langner. “We’d all much rather play in games that are back and forth, and to win it with a comeback. It’s a great feeling.”
For the second consecutive year, the top-seeded Tigers (14-2) play Bangor Christian (14-4) in the regional championship game, which is scheduled Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Last year, the Patriots prevailed 9-3.
With Fort Fairfield trailing by three runs Saturday, Langner and Cyr each singled to lead off the fifth inning. Langner scored on an errant throw by the catcher, while Cyr came across when Colby Langner reached on a two-base infield error. Colby Langner advanced to third on a groundout by Jared Harvey and, with two outs, scampered home on a wild pitch to tie the score.
Dylan Jandreau then walked and stole second before Liam McNamee ripped a 1-0 fastball into the left-center field gap for a double to bring home Jandreau for the go-ahead run.
McNamee recalled that in the top of the inning, during a lengthy injury delay, coach John Ala had met with the team on the mound and told the infielders that he wanted this to be “a story that we’ll talk about,” so when McNamee had the opportunity, he delivered.
“It’s all about avoiding the big inning at this level,” said Katahdin coach Tim Thoreson, “and we couldn’t do that [in the fifth]. It was two great teams battling and it was their day today.”
Cyr hit five batters and walked five others in a rocky start for Fort Fairfield, but he still limited the Cougars to two hits in 6 1/3 innings before Colby Langner came on for the save.
“We’re a big family and we have each others’ backs, even when things go downhill,” Cyr said. “It was a rough outing for me, but we just pick each other up.”
Cyr reached his pitch limit (114) after Katahdin’s Cooper Drew flied out to center field to begin the seventh. Colby Langner came on to induce a groundout by Brody Guiggey before Caleb Giles reached on an infield error.
Rig Otero then hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher, who sprinted toward first base before flipping the ball to McNamee for the final out.
Katahdin (12-5) scored twice in the first when Drew and Guiggey were hit by pitches and scored after two errant throws by the Tigers on an ensuing play.
Fort Fairfield notched single unearned runs in both the first and second innings. No. 9 hitter Wyatt Keegan hit a long double over the left fielder’s head to drive in Jandreau, who reached on an error, for the tying run.
The Cougars tallied three runs to take the lead in the fourth. Otero singled up the middle, Bradley Hotham walked and John McNally made it to first on an error to bring in Otero. Hotham then scored on a wild pitch before a sacrifice fly by Drew brought in McNally from third.
Katahdin then was shut out by Cyr and Langner the rest of the way as they retired 10 of the final 13 batters they faced.
Hotham, a freshman, delivered a solid pitching performance for Katahdin. He gave up only one earned run on six hits, striking out six and walking two in five innings of work. Guiggey pitched a scoreless sixth for the Cougars.