AUBURN — A youth baseball team’s schedule can become quite full around this time of the year should it advance deep into a state tournament.

Take, for example, the Ararat 12U all-stars, who on Wednesday played their sixth game in five days in the double elimination state tournament.

Throw in a sweltering heat that has engulfed the state of late, and the grind can be a bear.

Brady Hiltz of Ararat tosses a pitch during Wednesday’s 12U Cal Ripken state final against Noble at the Auburn Suburban Complex in Auburn. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“Our team was built for a tournament like this one,” said Ararat 12U head coach Jon Hiltz on Wednesday before his team played Noble in the state title game. “We have a deep and talented pitching staff that was a big reason we won in 2018, and is a big reason why we’re where we are now.”

Ararat and Noble met for the third and final time in this tournament on Wednesday night to decide a state champion. Noble defeated Ararat 10-2 on Monday to clinch a berth in the final. Ararat emerged from the loser’s bracket and  defeated Noble 7-1 on Tuesday to set up yet another showdown between two teams that have a little history together.

Ararat defeated Noble in the 2018 9U state final to reach the New England tournament.


When it comes to strategy, pitch counts remain a priority.

A player can throw a maximum of 85 pitches a day. However, a pitcher can finish an at-bat should he reach that threshold. Afterward, the player is ineligible to pitch for two days. Anyone who throws between 1 and 40 pitches can turn around and throw the next day.  A pitcher would need a day’s rest should he throw between 41 and 66 pitches. Sixty-six or more pitches calls for a two-day rest.

The strategy of conserving arms in a tournament is almost always at the forefront of his mind, Hiltz said. Ararat has mainly been riding the arms of three players — Daniel Beal, Will Davis and Colby MacFawn. Lefty Brady Hiltz, Jon’s son, also is called upon to pitch some big innings.

“Absolutely, it’s a huge part of the process,” said Hiltz when asked about how pitch counts play a role in his decision making. “We’ve been riding Colby as much as we can. He’s been awesome for us every time he’s stepped on the hill for us.”

Noble’s Owen Orlando watches the catcher while leading off first base against Ararat during Wednesday’s 12U Cal Ripken state final at the Auburn Suburban Complex in Auburn. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Beal and Davis have also been solid for Ararat and Hiltz knows he can turn to them whenever he needs. Beal has also been excellent — he pitched a complete game gem in the victory over Noble on Tuesday.

David Edwards also made an appearance in Monday’s game against Noble.


Along with the packed tournament schedule, players have had to cope with the heat and humidity.

“The heat has been a factor for sure. We’ve made some decisions to try and combat it,” said Hiltz. “Winning our first two games definitely helped us out so we didn’t have to play seven games instead of six.”

Wednesday’s game will be the third time the two sides have squared off in a matter of three days. With Noble hosting the New England regional tournament, set to begin July 16 in Berwick, it is guaranteed a spot in the tournament. So, too, is Ararat because Maine is required to send a representative outside of the host.

Despite having already secured a spot in the regional tournament, Hiltz and Ararat insist they are playing to win.

“Driving home after the loss two nights ago compared to driving home after the two wins yesterday (Tuesday) were two completely different feelings,” said Hiltz. “We aren’t looking at it like we already have our spot. I know they’re ready to play their best game (Wednesday).”

The New England regional will consist of Noble, Ararat and teams representing Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and two teams from Massachusetts.

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