SCARBOROUGH – Joe Cronin of Scarborough has looked at the state championship banners in the school gymnasium since his freshman year. Overshadowed by the numerous banners for girls’ track and field, there’s one for baseball — 1986.

Cronin would like to add another one.

“That would be cool,” he said.

Cronin and the Red Storm will get their chance at noon today when they play Eastern Maine champion Messalonskee High of Oakland at St. Joseph’s College.

Scarborough’s previous state title was in Class B. The Red Storm are vying for their first Class A title.

“Myself and the other seniors have talked about putting a banner up there. That would be awesome,” he said.

Cronin, a pitcher/shortstop, could be hard-pressed to duplicate his heroics of Tuesday night’s 7-5 regional final win over Cheverus. Cronin hit a walk-off homer and was the winning pitcher.

It’s good the state final is four days later so Scarborough can come off its high and focus on today’s game. Also, the three-day break means that Cronin and Ben Greenberg are available to pitch today.

“Coach Coutts gave us Wednesday off if we wanted it. We showed up for hitting practice anyway,” said Cronin.

Cronin has gone from a skinny freshman playing second base four years ago to a power-hitting leadoff batter and hard-throwing pitcher headed to Boston College on a baseball scholarship.

“I probably weighed 130 pounds, if that, my freshman year. I was skinny,” he said.

Through weight training, speed and agility drills and the natural growth process, Cronin has packed on 30 pounds. He has the power to hit it out like he showed against Cheverus, and the speed to steal bases. He led the Telegram League in stolen bases with 19. Cronin also led the league in runs (22) and walks (20). He was second in on-base percentage at .585, and finished the regular season with a .357 batting average.

“The winter of my junior year, I didn’t play hockey. That definitely helped me in that it gave me time to work out,” he said.

Cronin returned to hockey last winter. He also played golf for the Red Storm.

A coach’s son, Cronin played for his dad, Jim, his first two seasons at Scarborough. Mike Coutts, who came over from Deering, is in his second season with Scarborough.

In Cronin’s freshman season, the Red Storm lost to Deering in the regional final. Coutts noticed that skinny kid playing second.

“Joe had the same makeup then as he does now,” said Coutts. “He’s a great competitor. From an opponent’s standpoint, he was somebody you had to be concerned with. Joe has worked at becoming a better player. He has a strong understanding of the game.”

Coutts said that understanding includes reading pitchers and knowing when to steal, and learning that he doesn’t need to throw at maximum speed to get hitters out.

Cronin’s fastball has hit 90 mpg. He said his arm strength was developed playing catch with his father and his friends, and also by developing a strong core through his workouts.

“I’ve always had a strong arm, but working out to develop my legs and arms has definitely given me more arm speed. Along with strong technique, I feel the ability to throw hard comes from your lower body,” said Cronin.

Cronin is well aware his name is well-known in baseball. Joe Cronin was a Hall of Famer who played for and later managed the Boston Red Sox. He also served as American League president from 1959 to 1973.

“My parents didn’t name me after him and I’m sure we’re not related. When I was younger, I went to a Red Sox game and they were having a Joe Cronin card giveaway. Hey, that’s my name, I remember saying. That’s was pretty cool,” he said.

Cronin feels he will get to do some relief pitching his first season with Boston College.

Right now, though, there’s the matter of getting a state championship banner to join the one from 1986.

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

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Twitter: TomChardPPH