BANGOR — Leon Lin spent most of the Class B North baseball championship game in the Old Town High School dugout. Now, he’s the featured player in one of the craziest moments in Maine high school baseball tournament recent history.

Lin’s Coyotes had already tied Erskine Academy in the bottom of the seventh inning when Lin was called on to go to second base and pinch run for Austin Sheehan. With one out and Lin on second base, Ethan Stoddard hit a slow roller back up the middle that made its way to the outfield. Lin advanced to third base, but when the ball was juggled in the outfield, he missed coach Brad Goody’s signal to go home.

“I was trying to wave him home. He must not have seen me,” Goody said. “Or heard the entire stands yelling ‘Go home! Go home!'”

Lin made a motion toward home, then back to third base, and when the ball still sat in center field, finally went home for real, capping the Coyotes’ three-run comeback and giving Old Town a 6-5 win at Mansfield Stadium.

“I was just so nervous. I couldn’t hear or comprehend anything,” Lin said. “Everything came in as a flash, and I started running.”

Old Town, now 16-3, will play Saturday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish against Yarmouth in an attempt to defend its Class B state title. The No. 3 seed in the North, Erskine ends the season at 15-4.

Old Town entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-3, but picked up momentum in the top of the inning, when left fielder Jacob Ketch made a perfect throw to nail Cody Taylor at the plate trying to score on Nate Howard’s single. Ketch’s throw to catcher Cole Daniel ended the inning, and prevented the Eagles from expanding their lead.

“I think you have to send him. I don’t regret making that decision, not with a two (run lead),” Erskine coach Lars Jonassen said.

Old Town leadoff hitter TJ Crawford led off the bottom of the seventh with a bunt single down the third base line, and went to second base on a Dylan Presby balk. Ryan Hoogterp walked, and Daniel hit a single to left center field. When the ball was bobbled, Hoogterp scored the tying run.

Sheehan was intentionally walked, and Ketch reached on a fielder’s choice, setting up Stoddard with the winning run on second base in the form of nervous sophomore Lin.

“I was just thinking, it’s tied up. It’s not big deal if I get out, but it would be very nice if I got a hit,” Stoddard said. “I got to first, and I turned around, and I watched the whole thing happen.”

The three-run rally capped the Coyotes comeback after spotting the Eagles a 4-0 lead in the third inning. Erskine hit four consecutive singles to open the top of the third, taking a 1-0 lead when Chandler Moore scored on a Presby hit. With the bases loaded and two out, Andrew Browne hit a Hoogterp pitch to deep center field. It appeared Crawford had it measured up for an out, but the ball went just beyond his glove, clearing the bases, giving Browne a double, and giving Erskine a 4-0 cushion.

“TJ catches that ball 99 out of 100 times. It’s a freak thing. He lost it in the sun looking up. He never quit. He came back with a hit later on,” Goody said.

Old Town got a run back in the bottom of the fourth, when Sheehan walked, stole second base and scored on a Ketch single. The Coyotes added two more runs in the fifth. Nick Boutin scored on an RBI groundout from Hoogterp, and Crawford scored on an single from Daniel to cut Erskine’s lead to 4-3.

Erskine starter Nate Howard, a Winkin Award finalist, went five innings, but struggled with his control, walking six while allowing just three hits.

“(Howard) did not have his best stuff. He was struggling early. I thought he looked a little stronger in the fourth,” Jonassen said.

The Eagles scored a run in the top of the sixth when they strung together four consecutive singles with two out. Howard scored on Boomer Jorgensen’s single, giving Erskine a 5-3 lead. Coming on in relief of Howard, Presby worked around an error and single to keep Old Town off the board in the bottom of the sixth, setting up the Coyotes seventh inning rally.

“We had a comeback against MDI (Mt. Desert Island) and John Bapst too, so we’ve done stuff similar to this before,” Stoddard said. “We had confidence in ourselves. Let’s put the bat on the ball and just roll with it.

Erskine issued eight walks, one intentional, with four of the runners scoring.

“I don’t know if it was the venue or the situation. I’m proud of my kids. I don’t think we embarrassed ourselves,” Jonassen said.

Moore, Jorgensen and Presby each had a pair of hits for Erskine.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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