STANDISH – He had faith. Westbrook High would rally to beat Biddeford.
“You’ll see,” he said, hugging the left-field fence that separated him from longtime teammates and friends.
It didn’t happen, not with Biddeford pitcher Trevor Fleurent so in control Tuesday night. When Fleurent and his teammates celebrated their victory for the Western Class A baseball championship, Reid Coulombe finally turned away from the field.
The disappointment on his face was hard to miss.
“Baseball is my passion,” he said, shortly after he arrived at St. Joseph’s College for the big game. “It always will be.”
He had worked his shift at Burger King and stopped by his home in Westbrook for dinner with his parents before hurrying to the game. He didn’t forget to grab his Westbrook baseball cap that covered hair cut way shorter than the mop I saw him wearing five years ago.
That night he ran onto the grass at Fenway Park to take his place next to Manny Ramirez in left field for the national anthem.
Elsewhere, his Westbrook Little League teammates stood at their positions by the side of Red Sox heroes. “I was so nervous. I didn’t want to trip when I ran.”
In his back pocket was Manny’s baseball card and a Sharpie marker that was running out of ink.
“You really have to look at it. Manny’s signature is kind of faded,” he said.
So are the memories.
You may remember Coulombe. He was the 4-foot-10, 97-pound left fielder for the 2005 Westbrook All-Star team that made it to Williamsport, Pa., and the Little League World Series. He and sidekick Jarred Martin were the comedian and motivator for their much taller teammates.
“Jarred pumps everybody up and I make them laugh,” Coulombe said one day between games. He was the imp, but not the clown.
“That seems so long ago. That summer, the only thing that mattered in our lives was playing baseball, baseball, baseball. Now, other things are just as important.”
He doesn’t want to be defined by what he did when he was 12 and that summer full of games, travel, a parade in front of adoring fans, and the trip to Fenway.
“It was a lot of fun, but we’re not that team anymore.”
Six of the 12 are on the Westbrook varsity. Zach and Jake Gardiner played shortstop and third base Tuesday night. Zach Collett was at second and Tom Lemay was catching. Sean Murphy pitched this season until a sore shoulder shut him down. Mitchell Chipman has a role, if not a steady position.
Martin played junior varsity until this season. Coulombe said his friend expects to join the armed services. Nick Finocchiaro, the catcher and pitcher in 2005 and the face of his team, opted for college prep courses this spring instead of baseball.
He was a year older in school and has graduated. His family left Maine for a new home in Tennessee last weekend; Finocchiaro will attend college in Utah in the fall.
Joey Royer, whose pitching saved Westbrook’s victory over Kentucky, is at Cheverus. Mike Boothby, who hit a winning home run in the New England tournament, has drifted away. So has Mike Mowatt, who hit two home runs in the two losses at the Little League World Series.
Coulombe got his growth spurt, finally. “I grew 4 to 6 inches this year. It’s made a big difference, made me stronger.”
Bigger and stronger, he still couldn’t earn a position on the Westbrook varsity.
“My position has always been second base, but it’s real hard to beat out Zach (Collett).”
Coulombe played junior varsity. He wants to be a Little League or Babe Ruth coach someday and jumped whenever Coach Mike Rutherford asked him to pitch batting practice or do other things needed to maintain a winning program.
“Will I try out next year? Of course.”
His long-range plan is to attend Penn State and major in nuclear engineering.
“I know, people don’t believe me. I always wanted to see how things work.”
From his spot along the fence, he looked at the Gardiner brothers and the others who experienced a summer like no other with him. Every summer that’s followed, they’ve felt the weight of expectations.
“We’re still close. Baseball is a bond.”
That’s why his friends’ disappointment was his Tuesday night. Their victories next year will be his, too.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: