WATERVILLE — Catching is Evan Bess’ first baseball love. In the bottom of the first inning of Thursday’s Class C/D Senior All-Star Game, he showed it.

With two outs and a couple North runners on base, Bess took a pitch from Hall-Dale’s Dean Jackman, sprung from his crouch behind the plate, and threw a strike to first base, picking off Dexter’s Jacob Bickford to end the inning.

“I love it,” Bess, a recent Madison Area Memorial High School graduate, said. “I eat it up.”

Bridgeway catcher Evan Bess turns the double play as he throws on to first in the Class C/D Senior All-Star Game at Colby College on Thursday. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

As the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year, Bess was a finalist for the Dr. John Winkin Award, which is annually presented between the C/D and Class A/B all-star games. Between games Thursday at Colby College’s Coombs Field, the Winkin Award went to Cape Elizabeth catcher Brendan Tinsman. The Western Maine Conference Class B Player of the Year, Tinsman will continue his baseball career next year at Wake Forest University.

“There were a lot of great finalists out there. I’m very grateful they chose me the winner,” Tinsman said. “After I won Gatorade Player of the Year, there was just one more thing that I really wanted to win, and I got it and I’m extremely grateful for all the awards this year.”

Bess hit .480 with 18 runs batted in and 28 runs scored for Bridgeway (the combined Madison/Carrabec team) this season. As a pitcher, he was 4-1 with a 2.79 earned run average, striking out 41 in 37 2/3 innings. Being mentioned among the state’s top baseball players was an honor.

“I’ve got a lot of good people supporting me. My family, my coaches, my teammates. I’ve been lucky throughout my life to have good people around me,” Bess said.

Bess started behind the plate for the South C/D team, and it was one of the few times he caught this season. When Bridgeway pitched Evan Holzworth, who joined Bess on the South team, along with Bandits teammate Sean Whalen, the team had a hole at short. A co-captain and team leader, Bess was happy to move to short, with junior Eric Wescott catching.

“I made the team better at short, and Eric made the team better behind the plate. We put our best lineup defensively on the field,” Bess said.

“We had to have a role filled at shortstop, but Evan filled it. It took him out of catching, which is what he loves to do, but he’s that type of kid who will do whatever he has to do to help the team,” said Bridgeway coach Robbie Emery, who served as an assistant coach with the South C/D squad Thursday. “He’s one of those kids who can do anything for a team. He can play anywhere. A huge asset.”

Bridgeway catcher Evan Bess makes a stop behind the plate in the Class C/D Senior All-Star Game at Colby College on Thursday. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Bess showed off his arm again when he went back behind the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning, when he was the pivot of a 5-2-3 inning ending double play. At the plate, Bess hit cleanup for the South, and walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run in the top of the third. The South won, 9-1.

In the first two innings, Bess caught Hall-Dale’s pair of aces, Jackman and Cole Lockhart. In the sixth, Bess caught his teammate Holzworth. After facing Jackman and Lockhart as rivals, the opportunity to catch each was special.

“They’re good ballplayers. They throw the ball well. The control and their stuff is good stuff,” Bess said. “The guys are incredible. The coaches are great. There’s no better environment to end a high school baseball career.”

Bess graduated as Madison’s salutatorian. The valedictorian was his twin sister, Whitney. Bess said he’s not sure how much higher Whitney’s grade point average was than his, but there was little sibling rivalry when it came to academic honors.

“It wasn’t something we talked about. She definitely beat me out,” Bess said.

Bess will attend the University of Maine in the fall, where he’ll study biomedical engineering, with an eye on medical school in the future.

Joining Tinsman and Bess as finalists for the Winkin Award were Grant Hartley of Edward Little, Cameron King of Portland, Cam Cousins of Wells, Pedro Matos of Maine Central Institute, Shane MacNeill of Traip, Dexter’s Bickford, and Dean Grass of Bangor Christian.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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