Messalonskee’s Denny Martin throws a pitch to Skowhegan’s Brendan Dunlap during a Class A North semifinal baseball game June 8 in Oakland. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

There was a lot to like about the Messalonskee baseball team in 2024. The moment Eric Palin fully saw his team’s potential, though, came on an evening that was rather uninspiring.

Fresh off a 14-1 blowout loss to Skowhegan in their third game of the season, the fourth-year head coach and his team made the trip to South Paris to face Oxford Hills. The Eagles would beat the Vikings 8-6, but it was the way they won that had Palin optimistic.

“Oxford Hills was one of those teams that’s always had our number, so I’ve always used them as a benchmark,” Palin said. “After that came, I came away with, ‘Wow, I don’t think we played particularly well, and we still beat them.’ I think it clicked then that we were going to have a good year.”

Messalonskee would certainly do so, finishing 16-4 and winning the Class A North title. The regional championship was the fourth in program history and the first since they won back-to-back Class A East crowns in 2012 and 2013.

Denny Martin (.419, 26 hits), Michael Achorn (.406, 26 hits, 24 RBIs, five home runs) and Ty Bernier (.386, 26 hits) led the way for a Messalonskee team that averaged 7.4 runs per game. Garrett Card (24), Parker Reynolds (23) and Cash Bizier (22) also had 20-plus hits for the Eagles.

Messalonskee was a team defined by tight games, and was at its most successful in those pressure situations. Palin’s team was 8-2 in ballgames decided by two or fewer runs, including a 6-5 win over Skowhegan in the regional semifinals and a 4-3 win over Bangor in the A North title game.


Cony’s Anderson Noyes connects for a first-inning single during a Class B North quarterfinal game against MDI on June 5 in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“In years past, we had teams that maybe didn’t have the offense where we could come back or believed we could come back,” Palin said. “This year, looking back, we had seven come-from-behind wins, and we won three of our four extra-inning games. I don’t think there was ever a number of runs we thought was too many (to come back).”

Some of Messalonskee’s biggest challenges this season came from Skowhegan, which went 10-8. In addition to the 14-1 win over the Eagles early in the year and the hard-fought semifinal defeat, the River Hawks also took Messalonskee to extras in the regular-season finale before ultimately falling 5-3.

Noah McMahon (1.04 ERA, 56 strikeouts), Brayden Bellerose (2.10 ERA) and Silas Tibbetts (2.98 ERA, 53 strikeouts) gave Skowhegan a strong pitching rotation this season. McMahon also led the team in batting average at .344.

No. 2 Lawrence, led by KVAC B coach of the year Corey Pelletier, earned a high seed in B North, as did No. 4 Cony. Both teams, though, suffered upset quarterfinal losses with the Bulldogs (14-3) losing to Oceanside and the Rams (11-6) falling to Mount Desert Island. Oceanside also took down No. 10 Nokomis (7-10) in the prelims.

Trent Drouin was named Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year and a Mr. Maine Baseball finalist for Oak Hill, which suffered an upset Class B South prelim loss to Fryeburg Academy to finish 12-5. Gardiner (5-11) and Erskine Academy (4-12) missed the playoffs.

Expected to be two of the top teams in Class C South, Monmouth Academy (17-2, regional runner-up) fit the bill behind pitchers Sammy Calder and Kyle Palleschi. Mt. Abram also lived up to its hype as a preseason favorite, though the Roadrunners (11-6) were upset by Traip Academy in the regional quarterfinals.


Maranacook first baseman Robbie Vivenzio awaits a throw for a force out during a Class C South semifinal against Monmouth on June 8 at Lewiston High School. (Lee Horton/Sun Journal) Lee Horton/Sun Journal

Making perhaps the best turnaround in 2024 was Maranacook. After going 4-12 a year ago, the Black Bears went 12-6 this year and nearly knocked off Monmouth in the C South semifinals. Maranacook head coach Eric Brown knew early in the year that the vibe surrounding this year’s Black Bears was different.

“The chemistry wasn’t great last year, but the chemistry this year is off the charts, and that’s a difference-maker,” Brown said May 1 after his team’s 4-2 win over Mount View. “We’ve had guys come in that are bright, energetic guys, and everybody is feeding off it. It’s created this great atmosphere.”

Elsewhere in Class C South, Ben Nathan (.511 average, 24 hits) had an outstanding season for Hall-Dale (10-7), while Winthrop went 8-9 despite a roster with zero seniors. The Bulldogs and Ramblers lost prelim games to Lisbon and Mountain Valley, respectively.

In Class C North, Husson commit and all-KVAC selection Noah Hurd led Mount View to a 12-6 season and regional semifinal berth. Owen Moore (.429 average, 2.10 ERA) had a stellar season for Maine Central Institute, though the Huskies would miss the playoffs at 4-12.

Richmond first baseman David Edwards spikes the baseball and celebrates after the final out at home against Carrabec during a Class D South quarterfinal baseball game June 4. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

In D South, Richmond enjoyed a remarkable season as it went 15-2 and finished as regional runner-up to St. Dominic Academy. The Bobcats batted .405 as a team and averaged an impressive 12.3 runs per game.

Kenny Mecham (.580, 29 hits, 26 RBIs) and Zander Steele (.500 average in 12 games) both reached the .500 mark for Richmond at the plate. Hunter Mason (.469, 23 hits, 23 RBIs), Ben Fournier (.458, 22 hits, 21 RBIs, 23 steals) and Wyatt Cassidy (.451, 23 hits) also put up gaudy numbers for the Bobcats.

“We had terrific speed,” said Richmond head coach Ryan Gardner, whose team stole 140 bases this year. “We moved Ben to the top of the order when Zander got hurt, and he just took off. I don’t think anyone came close to throwing him out, and when you put Zander and Kenny after that, that’s pretty powerful.”

Forest Hills also had a winning season in Class D South at 8-7, and Carrabec, which gave Richmond a scare in the quarterfinals before falling to a 2-0 defeat, finished 6-8. Valley narrowly missed the playoffs at 4-10.

Comments are not available on this story.