SACO - As a little kid tossing a baseball around the back yard of his home on Scrimshaw Lane, Jeff Gelinas dreamed of one day playing for the Boston Red Sox.
As a young man in his final year of high school, he's thrilled to be continuing his baseball career for the University of Maine Black Bears.
Gelinas signed a National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning to accept an athletic scholarship to the state university. Thornton Academy held a ceremony in the school lobby attended by friends, administrators, family members and several former coaches of Gelinas, 17, who was recruited as a pitcher but also has shown both for Thornton and for the Fayette-Staples American Legion Post that he can handle a bat.
"They may be bringing him in as a pitcher," said third-year Thornton baseball coach Ray Petit, "but once they see what else he can do, he may open some other doors as a DH or as a first baseman."
Petit said the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Gelinas has played every position except center field in high school and legion competition.
"It definitely has been a dream of mine to play at a higher level my whole life," Gelinas said. "It ended up working out pretty well."
In recent years, Robbie and Steve Trask have joined the Maine baseball program after graduating from Thornton Academy. Former Saco Mayor Bill Johnson, a 1956 Maine graduate and Thornton trustee, presented Gelinas with a commemorative pin as well as the pen he used to sign the letter of intent.
Also in attendance were five of Gelinas's former baseball coaches -- Sean Rutherford, Scott McCrum, Bob Moody, Barry Jackman and Tom LaChance -- as well as his brother, sister, mother and grandmother. His dad, John, died when Gelinas was in Little League.
"He actually saw me hit my first home run," said Gelinas, who thanked his old coaches and parents for teaching him "how to persevere when things aren't going great and how to be humble when they are."
Last spring Gelinas went 2-2 with a 1.46 ERA as Thornton reached the Western Class A quarterfinals. He also batted .356 with a homer and 13 RBI.
As a pitcher, he held opponents to a .179 batting average, threw three complete games and averaged a little better than a strikeout per inning.
"Nothing seems to bother him," said Petit. "He's pitched against some of the best teams in the league ever since he was a freshman and it hasn't fazed him. He could be getting racked or pitching a one-hitter against Westbrook and his demeanor on the mound didn't change."
Gelinas plans to major in business. He won't be the only Mainer in Coach Steve Trimper's recruiting class. Anthony Capuano, a first baseman from Bangor whose father Jack and uncle Dave played hockey for the Black Bears, also plans enroll in the fall of 2013.
KRISTIN ROSS of Gorham signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Division I Binghamton University in Vestal, N.Y. Ross, a 6-foot senior center, averaged 16.5 points and 10.9 rebounds a game last season to rank second in both categories in the SMAA. Her 2.7 blocks a game also ranked second. Ross was named to the all-SMAA first team and was an honorable mention All-State selection.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: