FREEPORT — Throughout the season when taking a look at the Freeport High School baseball team lineup, it is easy to be a bit confused. 

The Freeport High School baseball team plays Ellsworth for the B State title at St. Joseph’s College on Saturday. The Falcons have three sets of brothers in the starting lineup. Pictured left to right, Liam Hold, Toby Holt, Shea Wagner, Gabe Wagner, Heath Cockburn and Blaine Cockburn. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

Up and down the lineup, fans will find three sets of brothers taking up two-thirds of the Falcons’ lineup card.

“I’ve known these six kids a long time,” first-year varsity coach Kyle Goodrich said, who also works in the school district and has coached many of this year’s players at the junior varsity level. “They each bring something to the team, and it’s rubbed off on all of us, it’s ‘we, not me’ and the guys buy into it.”

The Falcons (16-3) will play for the State Class B Championship on Saturday at Saint Joseph’s College against the north champs, Ellsworth (18-1), at 4:30 p.m.

For Freeport, there is Toby and Liam Holt, Shea and Gabe Wagner, and Heath and Blaine Cockburn. Toby and Shea recently graduated, while Liam, Gabe and Heath are juniors and Blaine is a freshman.

All have played sports with each other through the years, but being together on a high school roster, playing for a state title, it’s something special for each one of them.

“This year feels more together as a team than any other team in any other sport I’ve played in high school,” Toby said. “That has a lot to do with coach (Goodrich), he’s made an environment of together, together, together, and it’s been great.”

Freeport starting pitcher Shea Wagner turned in a strong performance against the Greely Rangers in the Class B South semifinals last Saturday in Cumberland. The Falcons face Ellsworth in the State Class B championship game this upcoming Saturday at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. (John Ewing / Portland Press Herald)

“We’ve always played with each other in years past. It’s great to be doing it at the next level, where it means something,” added Heath.

Goodrich and his coaching staff have been preaching togetherness and cohesiveness all season, and the fact he has three sets of brothers on the roster, it has only strengthened the bond amongst the team.

“It’s a band of brothers, it’s what this team is. I’ve never had a brother, so to see the guys push each other day-in and day-out, it’s quite fun to watch,” Goodrich said. “They push each other in so many ways, whether it’s on the field, classroom or in life, they all want to do something they have never done before. I think the younger brothers look up to the big brothers and don’t want to let them down, pushing them even more.”

Sibling rivalries are a strong force to reckon with, and Shea has seen it multiple ways.

“It’s different from the past few years, I was the middle one, Gabe wasn’t up on varsity yet, so Colby was the older brother,” Shea said about being on the team with his older brother who graduated last year. “I won’t say I’m as much of a role model to him as Colby was to me when I first joined the team, but it’s definitely really cool to have brothers on the team, especially now where we’re doing so well. It’s been great to play with my brothers.”

Gabe likes the push it gives him.

“Last year I had two older brothers on the team, and I look up to both of them, they both drive me,” Gabe said. “And even with just one on the team, it makes me want to be more athletic and overall be a better athlete. It definitely motivates me to be good.”

As a freshman, Shea was a member of the 2016 Freeport team that also made it to the state championship, before falling to Old Town, 12-2.

“I was their bullpen catcher,” Shea said. “It was exciting to be part of that team. I didn’t do anything, but the experience was great. But I’ll admit it’s so much better to be part of it though.”

Freeport first baseman Toby Holt has his eyes on the ball as Greely baserunner Harry McFarland dives into first base in the Class B South semifinals last Saturday. The Falcons, after downing the Rangers and top-seeded York, head to Saturday’s State Class B championship against Class B North champion Ellsworth. The game will be played at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, with first pitch slated for 4:30 p.m. (John Ewing / Portland Press Herald)

Each brother will admit they like the competitiveness amongst themselves, but they also realize the effects it has had on their team.

“I also think it’s helped the team a lot with three sets of brothers with the team chemistry and team bonding as it helps pull us together,” Blaine said. “Brothers look out for each other, having these three sets of brothers helps give the team a community of brothers and that helps us bond and play well together. I think everyone looks forward to playing a game with this team.”

Shea, who mans center field when not on the hill, wisely understands the team chemistry it brings.

“We’ve all played sports together the last four years, but having brothers on the team has helped, it’s kept things a bit more loose than it would usually because you’re obviously more comfortable around your siblings,” the senior said. “When you have two brothers in two different grades who have different sets of friends, it helps. It’s easier for me to be friends with classmates of (Gabe) as I’m sure it has helped him with seniors, and I think that helps all the way down.”

Goodrich also thinks that even after a couple of the older brothers move on, the “brotherhood of success” will trickle down for years to come.

“They all get to taste success with their brothers,” Goodrich said. “They pass it down to their teammates, share their experiences to players to come.”

And the brothers agree, as the younger brothers look up to their older siblings.

“Toby is always providing me constant support,” Liam said. “He has really blossomed as a leader in the Freeport community. He, Shea and Eriksen (Shea) have been great leaders and captains on the team this year. I’m excited, but I’m also kind of sad in a way. Toby and I have been playing together since T-ball. It’s definitely going to be different next year to be on a team without Toby.”

Toby reciprocates his brother’s comments.

“Constant support. Liam has always been there for me,” Toby said. “There is always someone on the same page thinking ‘what is he doing to do next?’ It’s great chemistry.”

Freeport pitcher Blaine Cockburn thorws a pitch during the seventh inning of Thursday’s Class B South baseball quarterfinal in Freeport. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

For the Cockburn brothers, they will still have next year to play together, but this year they have found a combination on the mound in helping the Falcons with their success.

“Blaine has a completely different look as a lefty and his release point,” Heath said. “It’s been effective with him coming in late in games.”

The two combined to allow one run on five hits in the 2-1 victory over top-seeded York in the B South final on Tuesday.

“Blaine looks up to Heath in so many ways.” Goodrich said. “Heath doesn’t say much, but when he speaks, everyone listens, and Blaine gets that first hand every day being his brother.”

“It’s helped me a lot with understanding a leadership role,” Blaine added. “My brother has helped me out as an underclassmen coming in.”

It’s mixed emotions for Shea Wagner, who will be on a high school field or court for the last time with either brother. The two shared the soccer teams run to the state game last fall with their cousin Eriksen Shea.

“After soccer, I was like, ‘it’s been a great season, I still have two more to go,’ but this is my last chance and I think we’ve made it count,” Shea Wagner said. “I knew going into the season we’d be pretty strong, and I know it was the seniors last chance to do something for Freeport High School.”

“Shea has grown up immensely the last four years,” Goodrich said of Wagner. “He has done a really good job with everyone. Maturity rises, and that’s why he is a captain.”

With all the success many Freeport teams have had in the past school year, the brothers feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as they close out the year.

“We’re the only team still playing so that’s pretty cool,” said Toby, who plays first base and pitches and was on the jayvee team in 2016 when the Falcons went to the state final. “This was my first playoff win ever, we won a prelim in basketball, but this was the first quarterfinal win (over Wells) I’ve ever had as high school athlete. It’s been great to be part of the success Freeport has been having.”

Gabe also appreciates the run his teams have had this year, including advancing to the State Class B final in boys’ soccer in the fall. 

“It feels amazing having the opportunity. Not everyone gets a chance to make a state championship run, and to have two in one year is awesome,” Gabe said. “And all of the sports in Freeport on a whole have had successful seasons this year and it feels great to be the last one playing.”

Regardless of Saturday’s outcome — be it blood brothers or teammate brothers — these Falcons understand what family is all about and will forever have memories to share with one another.

“You come together as a team, you’ll play confident like a team,” Goodrich said. “You never know if you’ll make it back, so why not come together as one and communicate the love you have for each other?”

Freeport’s Heath Cockburn (7) looks to the umpire for a call as teammate Shea Wagner (9) backs up in Thursday’s Class B South quarterfinal game in Freeport. Wells runner Matt Tufts was safe on the play. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

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