Ask Jackson Coutts what his favorite position is and all you’ll get is a laugh. “As long as I’m able to hit, I’ll like any position,” he said.

Coutts sure can hit. He batted .632 this season with 11 doubles and two home runs while leading Orono to the Class C baseball state championship. Some teams refused to pitch to him. He was walked 25 times, 20 of them intentional, including three with the bases loaded.

He was a pitcher (8-1, 2.72 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 411/2 innings), shortstop and catcher. And he led off Orono’s four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning with a first-pitch double as the Red Riots rallied to defeat Lisbon 4-3 in the Class C state championship game.

For all he did, Coutts was selected as the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year.

“He’s an intelligent baseball player,” said Orono Coach Don Joseph. “Also, in essence, he is the ultimate team player. ‘Whatever you need me to do, Coach’ – that is what we all heard from Jack. That attitude, that leadership, permeated the whole team. That’s why our team was Class C state champion.”

Joseph said Coutts would go out of his way to help any of his teammates.

“He’s a great human being who doesn’t take himself too seriously,” he said. “He will be greatly missed, his leadership and management style.”

Joseph believes that trait comes from Coutts’ parents: Mike, the University of Maine softball coach and a former UMaine baseball player, and Lynn, a senior associate director of athletics at UMaine, and former coach and star player for the Black Bears’ softball team.

Coutts, who will play at the University of Rhode Island, certainly appreciates his parents’ influence. “They’re very much into the game, so whenever I want to get some instruction from them or coaching, they’re always available to do it,” he said. “Whenever I want to practice baseball, they’re willing to do it.”

Coutts was also an outstanding football and basketball player. But baseball is his favorite sport.

“The game itself is fun,” he said. “It might take a while for some people to get into it, but what they don’t understand is the social part of the game. You’re with your teammates and you’re always doing something. You’re taking batting practice and you’re talking to your buddies, or you’re in the outfield shagging flies and you’re talking and making jokes … I’ve really enjoyed the social aspect of the game.”

He liked being on the field, too. He was the winning pitcher, with nine strikeouts, in the state final.

“I’m still a little shocked that it happened,” Coutts said. “But it meant a lot to a lot of people.”


Robbie Armitage, Falmouth senior, shortstop: A slick fielder, he was tough at the plate as well, batting .406 with seven doubles, one triple, one home run, 16 RBI and 22 runs. He pitched in relief with a 1-1 record and one save, and struck out 22 in 111/3 innings. He will play at Marist College.

Evan Balzano, Thornton Academy senior, first base: Balzano led the SMAA with a .481 batting average, and also had eight doubles, one home run, 13 runs and 23 RBI – 10 with two outs. He struck out only once. He will play at the University of Maine.

Jared Brooks, Cheverus senior, pitcher/first base: The Player of the Year in the SMAA, Brooks batted .386 with three home runs, 14 RBI and 12 runs. As a pitcher he was 5-2 with a 1.14 ERA and 66 strikeouts. Opposing batters hit just .153 against him. He will next play at Stonehill College.

Jackson Coutts, Orono senior, utility/pitcher: Our Player of the Year and winner of the John Winkin Mr. Baseball Award, Coutts helped the Red Riots take the Class C state title. He hit .632 and was walked intentionally 20 times. He scored 15 runs and drove in 19. As a pitcher he was 8-1 with a 2.72 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 411/3 innings. He will play at the University of Rhode Island.

Cam Guarino, Falmouth senior, pitcher: The lefty was one of the state’s premier pitchers the last two years, helping the Yachtsmen to the Class A state championship game each year. This year he went 9-1 with a 1.33 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 68 innings, and walked only 10 batters. He will play at the University of New Haven.

Logan Drouin, Gorham senior, pitcher/utility: The SMAA pitcher of the year, Drouin went 10-0 with one save. He had a 0.74 ERA and struck out 54, walking only nine in 612/3 innings. At the plate he batted .302 with 11 RBI and 11 runs. He will play at Franklin Pierce.

Gibson Harnett, Yarmouth senior, pitcher/outfield: Harnett was a major factor in Yarmouth winning the Class B state championship. He was 7-1 with a 0.99 ERA and didn’t allow an earned run in 21 playoff innings, capped by his two-hit shutout of Old Town in the state final. He batted .357 with 10 RBI and 15 runs.

Nate Howard, Erskine Academy senior, pitcher/utility: The KVAC Class B player of the year, Howard helped the Eagles to the Class B North title game. He went 7-0 with one save and had a 0.89 ERA. He struck out 48 and walked only eight in 442/3 innings. At the plate, he batted .312. He will play at Massachusetts Maritime.

Peter Kemble, Bangor senior, pitcher/outfield: Kemble was part of three consecutive Class A state championships for the Rams. This year he went 7-2 with a stunning ERA of 0.13 and struck out 78, walking six in 53 innings. At the plate he hit over .380 with 15 RBI and was 14 of 14 in stolen bases. He will play at the University of Maine.

Jake Knop, Portland senior, shortstop: One of the best fielding shortstops in the state, Knop was a three-time all-defensive player in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association. This year he also batted .444 with seven doubles, three triples and one home run, with a team-high 25 RBI. He will play at Manhattan College.

Trevor LaBonte, York senior, pitcher/first base: A dominating pitcher, LaBonte led the Wildcats to the Class B South championship game. He was 8-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 591/3 innings. He also batted .417 with five doubles, one home run, 17 runs and 11 RBI. He will attend Bridgton Academy.

Brendan Tinsman, Cape Elizabeth junior, catcher: Considered by many to be the best catcher in the state. He batted .491 with four home runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and 20 runs scored. He struck out only three times in 53 at-bats. He also stole 20 bases in 22 attempts. He has verbally committed to Wake Forest University.

Sam Troiano, South Portland senior, outfield/pitcher: A repeat All-State selection, Troiano was at the head of all the Riots’ success the last two years. This year he batted .371 with 10 RBI and was 15 of 15 in stolen bases. As a pitcher he was 5-1 with a 1.82 ERA. He will play at USM.

Ryan Twitchell, Greely senior, pitcher: A repeat all-state selection, Twitchell is regarded as one of the state’s top pitchers. He went 3-3 with a 0.95 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 441/3 innings, and had a 0.86 WHIP. He batted .321 with 12 RBI and 13 runs. Twitchell will play at the University of Rhode Island.

Coach of the Year

Marc Halsted, Yarmouth: The Clippers weren’t expected to be among the top teams in Class B South this year, but they won their first state championship since 1995. Halsted kept his players focused on improving each week, taking it game-by-game and believing they could compete with the best teams despite entering the regional playoffs as the No. 9 seed.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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