This press clipping from the Kennebec Journal shows a photo of the 1990 Cony baseball team after it beat Bangor to win the Eastern A title. Contributed photo

Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment of our new series, “Remember When,” in which we revisit some of the memorable games, events, streaks and runs in high school spring sports we’ve covered over the last few decades.

It’s been 30 years since the Cony baseball team won its first state championship. But that’s done little to blur the memories for Mark Damren.

“I remember it like it was literally yesterday,” the former infielder and co-captain said. “We were really a close group.”

And a good one. The 1990 Cony baseball team was the first one in program history to win gold, going 18-2 and finishing the journey with a 10-5 victory over Oxford Hills in the Class A final.

It was the first of two straight titles for the Rams. Nothing, however, felt better than the breakthrough.

“It’s a treasured moment,” said Mike Farnham, a senior on the team who pitched a complete game and clubbed two home runs in the final. “I always bring it up. It’s small talk, but it’s a great memory.”

Former Cony baseball coach Jeff Trundy poses with Mark Damren in 2015.

“They were a tight group, they really respected each other, and had a lot of fun together,” said coach Jeff Trundy, who led Cony from 1976-95 and now coaches at The Gunnery in Connecticut and for the Falmouth Commodores of the Cape Cod League. “They just had a common goal that they really wanted to achieve.”

A goal, and a chip on their collective shoulder. Cony had turned into a successful program, but had trouble getting through teams like Bangor, Lawrence and Brewer in the Eastern Maine region.

“We had knocked on the door quite a few times,” Trundy said. “We couldn’t get over the hump. I think this group was determined to do that.”

The team that took the field in 1990 had the talent to match that desire. The Rams had heavy bats in the middle of the lineup in first baseman Mike Fallona, pitcher and outfielder Farnham, catcher Adam Mitchell and center fielder Scott Pushard. They had ideal table setters in second baseman Keith Gleason and third baseman Chuck Graceffa. Right fielder Sean Rivers, left fielder Wes Nims and shortstop Damren rounded out a potent lineup. And Farnham, Pushard and junior Dan Dickens were a trio of effective pitchers.

“On defense, we had someone good in every spot,” Farnham said. “And everyone could hit.”

The Rams’ biggest asset, however, may have been their depth and versatility. Players like Pat Burns, Ray Croteau, Aaron Dostie and Eric Pelkey had defined roles on the squad, and everyone on the team could slide over to another position. This was proven when, late in the season, Trundy had Damren move to third, Gleason move to short and Graceffa play second, and the team never missed a beat.

“They made the most of their opportunities when their opportunities came,” Dickens said. “You don’t win the way we won with nine. … I honestly think that every player on that team contributed at some point.”

And they had the right coach leading them. Trundy was a great baseball mind, who demanded focus and dedication from his players.

“We just did the little things right. It was the expectation,” Dickens said. “We polished our shoes on the bus or at home before every game. If they weren’t polished, you were in trouble. Our helmets got cleaned. Our stuff had to be laid out perfectly. If we didn’t run off the field after an inning, the next practice we would spend a half hour just running on and off the field at full pace.”

Trundy had a personable side as well, though, and his players gravitated toward him.

“To this day, he’s one of my most favorite people,” Damren said. “He was kind of like a dad. … He was the kind of guy that, in school, he wanted you to do well. And on the baseball field, it carried over.”

The team’s determination and coach’s attention to detail mixed perfectly, and the Rams rolled. They won blowouts and close games alike, then finally made it through the East bracket by beating first Waterville and then Bangor in the regional final.

“We’d had so much trouble getting past Bangor and getting to that point,” Trundy said. “Once they got to that point, it was almost like they were relieved.  It felt like the pressure was gone a little bit.”

The Rams played like a team at ease in the final. Cony jumped on the Vikings in the first inning when Pushard’s sacrifice fly and Mitchell’s double scored Gleason and Fallona, respectively. The floodgates opened in the third, as Pushard drilled a three-run home run and Farnham drilled a two-run shot two batters later to make it 7-0.

In the dugout, Trundy couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

This press clipping from the Maine Sunday Telegram shows a photo of the 1990 Cony baseball team after it beat Oxford Hills to win the Class A title. Contributed photo

“Everybody expected it to be a very, very close game, and all of a sudden we come out swinging the bats like there’s no tomorrow,” he said. “They just walked in there that day, and there was no way they were going to lose.”

Oxford Hills narrowed the gap to 9-5 in the fifth, but Farnham made sure the rally stopped there. He added another home run, a solo shot in the seventh, to provide himself with some insurance.

“I hadn’t hit a home run all year,” said Farnham, who finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs. “I knew (the first one) was gone as soon as I hit it. The second one, they were actually trying to walk me. … I knew it was my last at-bat for Cony. I think the pitch was pretty much around my eyeballs, and I just swung at it.”

His teammates weren’t surprised to see him pick that day for his best game.

“Farnham was the kind of kid that, I don’t care if you’re playing tennis or baseball or football, you want him on your team,” Damren said.

It wasn’t just Farnham. Pushard had two hits and five RBIs. Mitchell had two doubles. Fallona had two hits apiece and three runs. The 20th game of the year, like the 19 before it, was a team effort.

“We had a group of guys that had that killer instinct,” Damren said. “I don’t think a lot of teams had that. We definitely had that.”

By afternoon’s end, they had the hardware to go with it.

“I knew we had it in us to do it,” Damren said. “And to stand there in the middle of the field and hold that Class A state championship trophy was like, we did what we came to do.”

“It was awesome,” Farnham said. “I still remember that feeling, and I still have a picture in my mind of the dugout, everyone coming at me. It was the team. Everyone played a great part on that team.”

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