FALMOUTH — Connor MacDowell thought for a moment about all the kids who no longer play baseball.
“I mean, my whole 11-12 (Little League) all-star team all quit,” he said. “It’s kind of weird having these three still with me, but they’re also my closest friends.”
MacDowell, a catcher on Falmouth High’s baseball team, was talking about his fellow captains – infielders Caleb Lydick and Cal Inlow, and pitcher Ryan Mucci.
The seniors have been playing baseball together since, well, as long as they can remember.
Sure, there’s plenty of interests they have in common. Video games. Food. Pingpong. Fishing.
But baseball is the most essential. Their fathers often coached their teams growing up.
“That’s what kept us together,” said Inlow. “We were always playing together.”
They will follow different paths next year: Mucci to Villanova, MacDowell to Oberlin College in Ohio, Lydick to Florida Gulf Coast and Inlow to Loyola of Maryland. But they have one last high school season together.
“It’s a make-or-break season for us (this spring) in that it’s the culmination of 12 years or so of baseball,” said Mucci. “We know that. For three of the four of us, this is it. (MacDowell) is the only one who’s going on to play baseball (in college). We kind of know this is the time to do it.”
Cooper Higgins, Falmouth’s athletic director, said such friendships are often what keep high schoolers participating in sports.
“That camaraderie is very important,” Higgins said. “When you think about it, some of the most successful teams end up being those that stick together throughout the kids’ so-called careers.”
Sometimes the quartet has bonded over other sports. Inlow and Lydick played basketball together for years. This year Mucci played football for the first time, joining Inlow.
But mostly they just like to hang around together, much of the time at Lydick’s house.
“They have the best snacks,” said Mucci.
“Oh yeah,” said Inlow. “That’s true.”
“That’s why they kept me as a friend,” said Lydick, laughing. “For my snacks.”
MacDowell, whose cousin is Ryan Flaherty of the Baltimore Orioles, said food does play a big role in their lives.
“We tend to get food a lot together,” he said. “That’s our bonding. We go down to Falmouth House (of Pizza) or maybe Chipotle (in Westbrook).”
When the weather’s nice, they go to the Lydick family’s lake house on Little Sebago, where they fish and just hang out.
“We talk about pretty much everything,” said MacDowell. “It’s kind of nice to get away from baseball once in a while and just be able to talk about what’s on TV or what’s going on with your family or friends.”
And when they go to Lydick’s house, it’s all about video games (they prefer Grand Theft Auto, though lately have gone old-school with Super Smash Bros.), pingpong and the snacks.
“When we were younger, maybe eighth grade or freshman year, me and Cal would go to Caleb’s house and play XBox all night,” said Mucci. “Pingpong too. It was always XBox and pingpong. I have a lot of memories from Caleb’s basement.”
While Mucci is the undisputed video game king (“It’s not fair,” he said. “I had older brothers and played with them all the time, honing my skills for a long and illustrious career.”) there appears to be some debate over who’s the best pingpong player.
Mucci, a practical joker who has been known to zip-tie shut the equipment bags, would like to claim that crown as well. But Inlow said it’s Lydick. “Caleb wins most of the time,” he said.
They can joke about almost anything because they know each other so well. And their humor leads to trust.
“How much we trust each other on the baseball diamond is because of how much we trust each other outside of baseball,” said MacDowell, who the others agree has always been the best baseball player among them.
Kevin Winship, the Falmouth coach, expects the Yachtsmen to be competitive this year because of their leadership. Falmouth went 15-3 in Western Class A in 2014, advancing to the regional semifinals. MacDowell is a leading hitter (.322 last year with 19 runs scored and 10 RBI) while Inlow and Lydick (who played only six games because of an injury) are flawless fielders. Mucci also missed most of the 2014 season with an injury, winning the one game he started.
Their relationships will be a factor in determining Falmouth’s success.
“Baseball’s a pretty relaxed sport,” said Lydick. “You need to be relaxed. So when we get out there and we know everybody and we know what we can do, we just play.”
But they also realize they need to bring the entire team together.
“We need to extend what we do to the younger guys, too,” said Mucci. “It’s not just exclusive because we’re seniors, we have to include the younger guys. We try to bring everyone into the inner circle.
“The inner circle is not just us, it has to be the whole team if you want to be successful. We try to take the bond we have and extend it to the others.”