A Westbrook High School team that has won baseball games at every level appears primed to cap it off this spring with its first Class A state championship in 60 years.
Many of this year’s group of seniors reached the Little League World Series six years ago followed by two appearances in the Babe Ruth World Series, first for 13-year-olds and three years ago reaching the championship game for 15-year-olds.
“They’re definitely used to winning,” coach Mike Rutherford said.
The Blue Blazes are 9-0 so far this season with seven shutouts. Senior pitchers Scott Heath and Sean Murphy are a combined 7-09 and have yet to allow a run while Matt Weimer, another senior, is 2-0.
Heath, a left-hander, who will play for the University of Maine next year, has pitched a pair of one-hitters so far this season. His fastball is in the high 80’s and he features a good slider.
“He may be the toughest kid I’ve ever coached,” said Rutherford, who coached at Portland High for 12 years and won a state title. “If things don’t go his way it doesn’t bother him.”
Heath inherited some of that toughness from his father Mike, a high school football player and wrestler, as did his freshman brother Kyle who is the team’s catcher.
Scott is also an accomplished hitter and he chose Maine because coaches assured him he would be able to hit as well as pitch “I believe he’s a bettor pitcher/outfielder than he is a pitcher in Division I,” Rutherford said.
Murphy, who has verbally committed to attend St. John’s University, missed all but a few innings of last season with a shoulder injury “Not having him last year hurt us,” said Rutherford, who team lost in the Western Maine semifinals.
Before he was hurt, the 6-foot-5 right-hander was throwing in the high 80’s with a good slider, but is now in the mid 80’s as he tries to regain his arm strength. St. John’s coaches plan to take a second look at him later this season.
The Blue Blazes also have a strong senior double play in second baseman Zach Collett and shortstop Zach Gardiner. Collett has already accepted a scholarship to Division II New Haven University.
“There’s four great hitters in the league (Southern Maine Activities Association) and he’s one of the four,” Rutherford said.
Gardiner is leading the team in hitting at .500 and will attend St. Joseph’s College in Standish next fall.
The toughest part of Westbrook’s schedule lies ahead, including a showdown against Deering at Hadlock Field on Saturday in which Heath is scheduled to pitch.
“They reached a pinnacle in Little League, they reached a pinnacle in Babe Ruth,” Rutherford said. “The only thing they haven’t done yet is go to state championship in high school. That’s their goal.”:
HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
Coaches who made a significant impact on high school sports in the state will be inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday. They include:
Earle "Pete'' Cooper of Fairfield, who coached football 33 years, 28 of those at Lawrence in Fairfield. Cooper posted an overall record of
216-96-4 while winning three state championships. He was the Maine Coaches Association Coach of the Year four times.
Art Dyer, who retired in 1998 after a 32-year career coaching boys basketball. His teams won three state championships, and he was named Coach of the Year seven In a 20-year stretch — 10 at Medomak Valley and 10 at Westbrook — his teams went 336-50.
Doug Roberts of Springvale, who led Rumford to the Class A boys basketball title in 1974 and 1976, winning the George Vinal Award. He scored 1,480 points in his high school career. He coached at Rumford for three seasons, then went to Sanford, where his teams made the Western Class A tournament every year but one.
Harold "Tank" Violette, of Winslow, who had a 39-year career as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator. From 1969-85, he coached Winslow football and won five state championships, with an overall record of 152-52-2. His Winslow hockey teams won six state championships.
NEW ARENA APPROVED
Voters in Bangor recently approved construction of a $65 million arena and civic center complex by a margin of 3-1. The new arena would replace the 56-year Bangor Auditorium which has long hosted the Eastern Maine basketball tournament as well as other high school events.
There is no timetable for construction or completion.
BASKETBALL COACHING CHANGES
Tim Prescott has stepped down after 26 years as head basketball coach of the Presque Isle boys team. During his tenure, Prescott saw the Wildcats drop from Class A to Class B in Eastern Maine due to a decline in enrollment. Over that span he posted a record of 321-186 while reaching four Eastern Maine title games. His teams posted 22 winning seasons, reaching the postseason 22 times.
The school board voted recently not to renew the contract of Jonesport-Beals boys basketball coach Vincent MacLean, Jr. MacLean coached for six seasons, posting a record of 68-48 in Eastern Maine Class D. This past winter, the Royals went 16-1 before losing in the Eastern Maine finals. MacLean will be replaced by junior varsity coach Gordon Faulkingham.
Baseball top 10
7. Cape Elizabeth
Softball top 10
1. South Portland
8. Oxford Hills