FALMOUTH – Matt MacDowell of Falmouth High hit for the cycle against Wells last week, ending the game with a two-run walk-off homer to right.

MacDowell, a junior, has a sweet swing from the left side of the plate. If his swing is a reminder of two recent left-handed hitting brothers from Deering, it’s not a coincidence.

Ryan and Regan Flaherty are MacDowell’s cousins. MacDowell’s mother is the former Karen Flaherty, sister of Ed Flaherty, Ryan and Regan’s dad and the longtime baseball coach at the University of Southern Maine.

MacDowell has similar mannerisms at the plate as his cousins. He’s tall and slender like the Flahertys were in high school, and wears No. 9 like they did.

“I hear it from a lot of people that I look a lot like them when I’m at the plate,” said MacDowell, a catcher. “It’s probably because I bat left-handed.”

MacDowell played against Regan Flaherty, who is two years older, in American Legion ball. He used to watch Ryan play at Deering.

“Anytime I could watch Ryan play at Deering with Andrew Giobbi and Ryan Reid, I did,” he said.

Where MacDowell differs from his cousins is he’s a catcher. He’s been a catcher since Little League although he’s also mixed in pitching.

MacDowell pitched for the Yachtsmen as a freshman and sophomore, but decided with Coach Kevin Winship to stay behind the plate this season.

“We decided that it was in the best interests of the team if Matt focused on catching,” said Winship. “We have a deep pitching staff and Matt is a very good catcher.”

But should Falmouth get in a pinch on the mound, MacDowell is available.

MacDowell likely got his love of catching from his father, Steve, who caught for Portland High and St. Joseph’s College.

“Matt has always wanted to catch,” said Steve MacDowell. “I think it’s because he wants to be where all the action is. He gets his hitting ability from my wife’s side of the family.”

Through four games for the Yachtsmen (3-1), MacDowell is 9 for 14.

After his big game against Wells, the next opponent, Freeport, intentionally walked him once and pitched around him another time.

“Matt has got that perfect swing,” said Winship.

“If a pitcher makes a mistake, he’s going to make him pay. Matt is just seeing the ball very well. He does a lot of hitting on his own.”

Winship is in his first season as Falmouth’s head coach after previous stints as an assistant coach at Portland and South Portland.

Asked if he had to coach MacDowell much on his hitting in preseason, Winship quipped: “I’m not going to mess with that swing. I’m just going to leave him alone.

“Hitters run in the family. Matt has the luxury of talking hitting with his uncle and his cousins.”

Because he also plays hockey for Falmouth, MacDowell doesn’t have time to do a lot of indoor hitting in the winter, like other players. But he has on occasion gone up to the Costello Fieldhouse on the USM campus and worked out in the batting cage under the watchful eye of his uncle.

“I hit a couple of times over the winter at USM,” said MacDowell. “My uncle comes to some of my games when he can. He critiques my hitting in the batting cage.”

MacDowell keeps in contact with his cousins through text messages and Facebook.

Ryan Flaherty is playing with the Tennessee Smokies in Double-A in the Chicago Cubs’ system while Regan is a freshman infielder/outfielder for Vanderbilt.

MacDowell wants to play college baseball at the highest level he can.

He has a list of potential colleges he might be interested in and has received inquiries from some schools, said his father.

At the moment, MacDowell enjoys playing two sports.

A defenseman, he’s been playing hockey as long as he’s been playing baseball.

“I like the two sports because they’re so different,” he said. “Baseball is so laid back compared to hockey. It gives me a break from the intensity of hockey. It’s always nice to come out in the spring and contribute to the offense. I can’t do that as much in hockey.

“I’m at the perfect place here at Falmouth. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

While MacDowell is off to a fast start at the plate, he cautions it can go the opposite way real quick.

“It’s still early,” he said. “A couple of o-fer games and it’s tough to make up.”

If MacDowell does slump — and it can happen to any hitter — it likely wouldn’t last long. You might say he has the genes on his side.

“I’m a catcher like my dad and I hit like the other side of the family. I have both sides going,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]