Three youth baseball teams with a history of winning will try to continue that trend this week as state and regional tournaments get under way.

A group of Cal Ripken players from Skowhegan has won state titles in each of the past four summers and now as 12-year-olds will play in its fourth straight New England tournament this week in Marlboro, Mass.

In Babe Ruth League state tournaments, Central Maine, comprised of players from Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield and Oakland, looks to repeat the state championship it won at the 13-year-old level last summer in the 14-year-old state tournament in Fairfield, which starts today. Augusta, the District 5 runner-up, is also in the five-team field.

In the state Babe Ruth tournament for 15-year-olds in Westbrook, Apple Valley, made up of players from Monmouth, Turner and Maranacook school districts will try to reprise the title it won a year ago as 14-year-olds.

Skowhegan appears ready to make a run at a New England title after outscoring opponents 75-11 and out-hitting them 85-19 in tournament games so far. Every player on the team but one has a home run in tournament play as well.

“I think this team is pretty special,” manager Phil Dugas said. “They certainly have the arms the bats and the gloves.”

Dugas has an array of strong starting pitchers led by Brendan Curran and Adam Towle. Isaac Witham, who sustained a broken arm in practice, has also recovered well enough to pitch in the tournament.

“Your approach is to go after that first game,” Dugas said. “If you get in the loser’s bracket you’ve got a tough row to hoe.”

Central Maine, which finished third in the New England tournament last year, returns most of its lineup and has added pitcher/shortstop Boomer Dexter.

“They picked up a lot of experience (last year) and a lot of maturity,” manager Jeff Gardiner said. “That helped out quite a bit. We’re looking to repeat.”

Dylan Hapworth, Zach Mathieu and Dexter headline a deep pitching staff while Dexter, Zach Guptil and Cameron Gardiner are among the top hitters.

The team beat Augusta twice in the district tournament, once by one run.

“Top to bottom they’re good,” Augusta manager Earl Kingsbury said of Central Maine. “Physically (our) team is as good as any team out there.”

Ten of the 12 returning players for Apple Valley played for high school varsity teams this spring including eight players who started.

“They’re a lot more poised and a little more seasoned I would say,” manager Joe Hutchinson said. “We did a little bit of (indoor) training in February and March.”

Josh Bunker, who pitched for Leavitt this spring, and Monmouth Academy’s Kyle Fletcher, lead a deep and talented staff. Tyler Hutchinson, Levi Morin, Brady Dion, Drew Gosselin and Tucker Whitman are among the leading hitters. Several other local teams are competing this week as well. In the Babe Ruth state tournament for 13-year-olds in Harrison, Central Maine begins play Friday. Both Messalonskee and Gardiner are playing the 11U Cal Ripken state tournament which opens Saturday in Mechanic Falls. Teams from Apple Valley East and West, as well as Gardiner, are playing in the Cal Ripken 9U state tournament which begins Friday at Sebago Long Lake.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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