STANDISH — The Hall-Dale baseball team’s 4-0 victory over Maranacook in the Class C South title game came with an extra bit of good news. With only 95 pitches needed to throw his masterful three-hit shutout, Dean Jackman remained eligible to pitch against Houlton in the state championship game.

For many teams, that’s a pivotal break. For the Bulldogs and coach Bob Sinclair, who has Cole Lockhart waiting to go, it’s a luxury.

“We have, really, two No. 1s,” Sinclair said. “It’d be hard to say one is our No. 1 and the other is a 2 because they both throw the ball really well. … Successful teams have a great pitching staff, and that’s what we have here.”

For all the reasons the Bulldogs were preseason Mountain Valley Conference and C South favorites, few reasons have played a bigger role in their realizing that hype than their pitching depth. With sophomores Akira Warren and Logan Dupont and junior Alec Byron, Hall-Dale has plenty of pitchers it can send up and trust in a tight spot.

Leading the way, however, is the senior tandem of Jackman and Lockhart, who have given Hall-Dale as rich a rotation as any team in the class.

“It’s been crazy. This entire season’s been crazy, it’s been a dream come true,” Jackman said. “It’s just been a perfect situation for us, and I think it’s going to suit us well going forward.”

As for which pitcher has looked better, that depends on the day. Jackman has the lower ERA, Lockhart has the perfect record. Jackman throws hard, but so does Lockhart. Lockhart threw a two-hit shutout and took a perfect game into the seventh against Lisbon in the MVC championship game; Jackman threw a three-hit shutout and struck out nine in the C South final.

And so on.

“We don’t care what game we pitch,” Lockhart said. “If coach put Dean on the mound in a big game it wouldn’t bother me, because I trust Dean out there. Or if I go on the mound in a big game it won’t bother Dean at all.

“It’s a dynamic duo, really, us two. It’s a great feeling to have.”

Hall-Dale pitcher Cole Lockhart celebrates after the Bulldogs beat Bridgeway 7-4 in a Class C South semifinal Saturday in Farmingdale. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

As the two have settled in as Hall-Dale’s top arms and two captains, they’ve become close — never more so than during the season.

“We’re good friends, but when we get to the season, Cole and I are basically like brothers,” Jackman said. “You can’t really get any closer than that. We both have the same motivations, we both want the same things, and we both kind of play and think the same way.”

From there, however, the differences become easier to see than the similarities. Lockhart is imposing on the mound, while Jackman is tall and lean. Lockhart is an expressive, emotional player, while Jackman is normally quieter and more reserved.

“I like getting out there, being louder. I like making sure my players are ready,” Lockhart said. “Dean, he’s kind of like the silent killer. He gets out there, he’s lengthy, you don’t really (see it), and then he brings out a fastball touching 80.”

“They’re two different personalities, but they both have that fierce desire to win ballgames and to dominate games when they’re on the hill,” Sinclair said. “One’s more of an extrovert, the other’s more of an introvert, but they’re both terrific in every way.”

They’ve also taken different paths to this point. Cole’s brother, Taylor, played at Hall-Dale, and Cole got into baseball early while hoping to reach the same heights his brother aimed for.

“(I knew about) the term that my brother put in his hat once, it was when I was younger and he was in high school, it said ‘RTSJ,’ ‘Road to St. Joe’s,’ ” Lockhart said. “And I thought ‘What does that mean?’ I’ve always wanted to go there, I’ve always wanted to be that person to bring a team there.

Jackman, meanwhile, acknowledged that he didn’t take pitching seriously until his junior year. Then, suddenly, it clicked. A raw player, he picked up miles per hour on his fastball due to mechanical adjustments, learned a curveball and chanegup, and was named the team’s most improved player as he worked his way first into the staff and then into the rotation.

“I started to get confidence in myself,” he said. “I know I’m a scrawny kid, but somehow I get a little velocity behind it.”

With no seniors in the lineup or the rotation last year, Jackman and Lockhart became the team’s top hurlers as juniors. The two had good seasons, but this year, bolstered by that experience, they’ve taken a leap forward.

“To know that people are depending on you, it just gives you more motivation,” Jackman said. “It makes you want to do better, not just for yourself and for the team, but even the community. Everybody’s backing you, everybody wants you to succeed, and that’s what gives you the confidence to do well.”

“We both had to become leaders that year with no senior on the team,” Lockhart said. “We took a huge stride there, it built us pretty much into who we are as baseball players now.”

Who they are are big-game pitchers, ones to whom Sinclair always feels comfortable giving the ball.

“They’re both absolutely terrific ballplayers, and the reason we’re going (to the state final),” he said.

They may be different, but every once in a while, the lines blur. After his ninth strikeout ended the win over Maranacook, Jackman threw down his glove, pumped both fists twice and yelled at the sky in celebration.

The “silent killer” was changing it up.

“I was trying to keep it in,” Jackman said, smiling, “but halfway through the game, things are sort of looking up for you, I sort of lost my self control for a little bit there.”

The Bulldogs wouldn’t mind another such display Saturday. From whichever No. 1 gets the call.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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