AUGUSTA – Westbrook’s Zack Bean, a star on the mound, came up big on the base paths as well, beating out a possible double play to allow Ryan Gilligan to break a scoreless tie in the sixth inning of Saturday’s Class A state championship.

The Blue Blazes added another run, and Bean finished off a five-hit shutout as Westbrook took the school’s first baseball state title in 62 years with a 2-0 win over Messalonskee at Morton Field in Augusta.

“When I hit it, I just – I knew I had to beat it,” Bean said of his run-scoring play. “And that’s the only thing on my mind at that point. I’m not the fastest runner, but when I hit it, I knew I was going to beat that one out for sure. I had to. That’s the only option I had. Or I was going to hear it when I got into the dugout.”

After the game, Westbrook coach Greg Souza preferred to let his players do the talking after the game. “I’m speechless,” he said.

Westbrook finishes their season 17-3, having won their last seven straight after losing to Windham on May 21. “We had a little talk [after the Windham game]…and I think everything just clicked right then,” Bean said of the Blue Blazes’ fiery streak. “Next practice, everybody had different attitudes.”

Messalonskee finishes their 2013 at 13-7.

Neither team could produce any offense through the first five innings. They occasionally made contact, even reached base, but always found themselves stranded when their ups ended.

It wasn’t until the top of the sixth that the defensive battle broke up. Gilligan walked to first to open the inning and Kyle Heath bounced a grounder into left to reach first himself and give Gilligan second. Keenan Lowe’s sacrifice bunt advanced his teammates another 90 feet each, and Derek Bouchard, who the Eagles intentionally walked, marched to first to load the bases for Bean.

With one out, Bean, by his own admission not the team’s swiftest runner, grounded to third. The Eagles’ baseman tagged the bag to get Heath for out No. 2; if he could turn the double play at first, then it wouldn’t matter that Gilligan was speeding towards home. Bean needed to beat the throw.

He did, and the Blue Blazes had a tenuous, 1-0 lead. They needed to play basically flawless defense, and they managed to, recovering from a bobble or two to keep themselves ahead.

Westbrook extended their lead in the seventh. Kaleb Kent reached first on a ground shot past the Messalonskee shortstop, then stole second – and third – during Kyle Schumacher’s at-bat; Schumacher grounded out 5-3, and Collin Joyce also grounded to third, but the throw this time was to home, and it was late. Kent crossed the plate, pushing Westbrook ahead 2-0.

Messalonskee had its last chance in the bottom of the seventh. The first batter Bean faced, Josh Woodward, hit a short ground ball back to him; Bean stumbled in the grass, but still handled the ball, and made the throw to first from his knees in plenty of time.

The next Eagles hitter, Ben Frazer, popped out to Brett Goodenow at second.

Their final man, Devin Warren, made contact, but not the contact he needed to make, not an energizing drive or an impossible-to-track grounder. Instead, he grounded out to first, whipping the Blue Blazes into a frenzy.

“At first, I was a little off,” Bean said of his disposition on the mound. “But when the game actually got going, it just felt like a normal game.”

“It doesn’t feel real right now,” he said. “But tonight it’s definitely going to kick in.”

Westbrook players pile one atop the other after taking the Class A state baseball title.
The Westbrook Blue Blazes, 2013 Class A title winners.  
The Westbrook boys hold aloft their gold glove.
The Blue Blazes rush onto the field just after the last out of Saturday’s Class A state finals in Augusta.
Kaleb Kent celebrates crossing home to score the Blue Blazes’ second run Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Heath readies for his at-bat.
Shortstop Collin Joyce catches a Messalonskee runner at second and whips the ball to first for the double play.
Westbrook pitcher Zack Bean lets the ball go towards home. The Blue Blazes overcame the Eagles of Messalonskee Saturday afternoon to capture the Class A state championship.
Keenan Lowe mans first base for the Blue Blazes.


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