Freeport’s Blaine Cockburn (2) embraces teammate Devin Lamb (22) after the Falcons fell to Old Town in the Class B state championship game at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Despite nearly two years since having played its last game of baseball, the Freeport baseball team set a goal of earning the program’s first state title.

It came within one game of reaching that goal, dropping the Class B title game to Old Town 7-3 on June 19 at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

“Even with the loss (in the state championship), it’s hard to look back on this season as anything but a success,” said head coach Steve Shukie, who took over the program prior to this season. “We laid the groundwork for the future, but one more win would’ve been a huge difference.”

Freeport started out 9-0 and was atop the Class B South standings at the midpoint of the season before it dropped six straight games, three to Greely and three to Yarmouth. The Falcons finished the regular season undefeated and avenged the losses to Greely in the B South final to advance to the state game.

After the loss, Freeport junior Blaine Cockburn took a long look at the Old Town celebration.

“I took a long look at that trophy; we’ll be back,” he said after the state title game loss. “This just fuels the desire even more.”

There were some changes to the sport this season, including the positioning of the home plate umpire.

Rather than calling balls and strikes behind the plate, the umpire was positioned behind the pitcher’s mound this season to allow for proper social distancing.

Brunswick head coach Craig Rogers said it didn’t make much of a difference.

“I think all the early hype about the umpiring positioning was for not,” he said. “I think most did an outstanding job.”

Although the Dragons finished 13th in Class A North, Rogers said there were plenty of positives to come out of the 2021 season.

“We played the best teams tough and had some things that didn’t go our way, that’s just baseball,” Rogers said.

The Dragons dropped a 6-5 decision to No. 4 Camden Hills in the opening round of the A North playoffs.

Morse played its best baseball at the end of the season. It was six outs away from upsetting No. 2 Greely in the Class B South preliminary round.

“We played up to our potential at the end, something we had fallen short of for a big chunk of the season,” said Morse head coach Niko Ruiz. “I wish we had played like that all year, but hopefully the community saw the direction this program is trending in.”

Richmond sophomore outfielder Max Viselli makes a diving catch to end fourth inning of the Class D South championship game against Searsport earlier this season in Standish. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Mt. Ararat head coach Brett Chase called the season a “learning year,” as the Eagles featured just two players with prior varsity playing experience.

“We couldn’t find the consistency needed to win at the varsity level,” said Chase. “In the games we hit the ball well we didn’t play well defensively and then in the games we played well in the field we struggled at the plate.”

Lisbon and Richmond advanced deep in their respective regional playoffs, but ultimately fell short of the ultimate goal.

The Bobcats earned the top seed in Class D South and rolled to the regional final with victories over No. 8 Forest Hills and No. 4 Piscataquis. They outscored the Tigers and Pirates 37-5 over those two games.

Richmond met its match in the regional final against eventual state champion Searsport, which won 4-3.

Lisbon also fell in a regional final, but took a much different path to get there. After edging No. 5 Waynflete 4-3 in the Class C South quarterfinals, the Greyhounds avenged a regular season loss and upset top-seeded Oak Hill 3-2 in the regional semifinals.

Lisbon High School shortstop Nick Ferrence tries to make a play ona line drive during the fourth inning of the Class C South final against Monmouth earlier this season in Standish. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

No. 2 Monmouth Academy sank Lisbon 5-0 in the regional final

Another big change this season was the open playoff tournament, which allowed each team to qualify for the postseason.

“I was skeptical at first (about the open postseason), there were pros and cons to it,” said Ruiz. “Anything can happen on any given day, which was the fun part about it.”

Added Rogers: “I liked it, it gave everyone a shot to do something regardless of the standings. Personally, I think it’s something they should consider to do in the future.”

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