When it comes to scouting a state championship game opponent, there’s only so much you can do, Hall-Dale High School baseball coach Bob Sinclair said. With that in mind, Sinclair has spent little time digging up information on the Houlton team his squad will face in the Class C state championship game Saturday.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge. You try to find those connections in northern Maine who have seen them play. I looked at a few stories online,” Sinclair said. “It’s not so much what the other team brings to the game. It’s what we do. We need to make sure we continue to do what we’ve found success with all season.”

The Class C championship game between Houlton (14-3) and Hall-Dale (18-1) will be at 4:30 Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph College’s Larry Mahaney Diamond in Standish. The other baseball state championship game featuring a central Maine team is the Class D championship between Richmond (17-1) and Fort Fairfield (15-2), which will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

Hall-Dale is playing in its first state game since winning the Class C title in 2001. Houlton snapped a 35-year regional championship drought when it beat Mattanawcook Academy on Tuesday for the C North crown. The Shiretowners last played in the state championship game in 1983, back when the school was in Class A.

“I’m proud of the guys. I feel like we have a very balanced team,” Houlton coach James Castner said.

Houlton carries an eight-game win streak into Saturday’s game. Senior Nick Perfitt is the Shiretowners’ top pitcher and will get the start, Castner said. Senior Pat Howe also is available.

“They’ve got a strong team,” Castner said of Hall-Dale. “It will be a real challenge for us.”

Hall-Dale’s offense is led by catcher Akira Warren, shortstop Alec Byron, second baseman Jacob Brown, and center fielder Austin Stebbins. Pitching-wise, the Bulldogs have two excellent options in Dean Jackman and Cole Lockhart. In Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Maranacook in the regional final, Jackman was dominant, allowing just three hits with nine strikeouts. Lockhart took a perfect game into the seventh inning of the Mountain Valley Conference championship game against Lisbon before settling for a two-hit shutout. Sinclair said he’d choose a starting pitcher after Friday’s practice.

“Whoever we put on the mound, there’s going to be a comfort level,” Sinclair said.

The Shiretowners offense has come from the spark provided by the three hitters at the top of the lineup: First baseman Isia Bouchard, outfielder/shortstop Keegan Gentile, and Perfitt. It’s a four and a half hour bus ride from Houlton to St. Joseph’s College, Castner said, but with the late afternoon start, the team will leave Saturday morning rather than spend Friday night in southern Maine.

Richmond is in the state game for the first time since winning the championship in 2010. Like Sinclair, Richmond coach Ryan Gardner doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of his opponent.

“(Fort Fairfield) were the No. 1 seed in the North, so they’re a quality ballclub. I hear they have great speed and they put the ball in play,” Gardner said.

Fort Fairfield is making its first trip to the state game since winning the championship in 1994. The Tigers lost the regional final in each of the last two seasons, and while glad to get over that hump, know there’s a more important game to play Saturday.

“We graduated quite a bit of talent, but we returned quite a bit too,” Fort Fairfield coach John Ala said. “We’ve been playing at a high level.”

Fort Fairfield used staff ace Jared Harvey to beat Bangor Christian in the regional final Wednesday. Due to pitch count rules, Harvey is unavailable to throw in the state game. Ala will turn to Isaac Cyr, a senior who earned some big wins this season, including a victory over Fort Kent, a 12-win team in Class C. Sophomore Colby Langner also could pitch, Ala said.

“They’ve grown a lot for not having pitched a lot of varsity innings before this season,” Ala said.

For Gardner, the pitching choice is obvious. Senior Zach Small is getting the ball. Small is 6-1, the loss coming to Class C St. Dominic Academy, and has allowed just two earned runs and nine walks all season.

“(Small) enjoys it. He’s one of those kids who wants the ball,” Gardner said.

Like Fort Fairfield, Richmond had to overcome recent losses in the regional final. The Bobcats lost in each of their most recent trips to the Class D South championship, in 2015 and 2017. Beating three-time defending state champ Searsport in Wednesday’s regional final was a confidence boost, Gardner said.

“We knew if we could get up on (Searsport) early and do what we do, we’d be all right,” Gardner said. “We were ready. The kids took extra BP (batting practice). These kids, their confidence level is through the roof.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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