Freeport High players hold the regional championship plaque after defeating Greely, 2-1, in the Class B South baseball final on Tuesday in Gorham. Drew Bonifant photo

GORHAM — He was pitching a gem, but Freeport senior Blaine Cockburn kept going up to classmate Gus Wing with the same message.

“Throughout every single inning of this game, I at least went up to him in the dugout once and said ‘Be ready,’” Cockburn said. “I knew he’d be the one that had to come in.”

Message received. Cockburn delivered on the mound, Wing was clutch in relief and No. 3 Freeport defeated top-seeded Greely 2-1 Tuesday at the University of Southern Maine to win the Class B South championship. The Falcons will play North champion Ellsworth in the state championship game Saturday at USM.

Freeport (16-4) lost to Greely (18-2) by 11-0 and 10-0 scores during the regular season, but similar to last season when the Falcons upset the Rangers in the regional final, they had the upper hand in the playoffs.

“That’s usually how our strategy goes against Greely,” Cockburn said. “We don’t really show them our team until the playoffs.”

Greely came in riding a 12-game winning streak with shutouts in eight of its last nine games, but the Rangers fell behind 2-0 in the first and couldn’t find the big hit they needed to pull even.

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“We had our opportunities,” Greely Coach Derek Soule said. “Two runs, it felt like with our lineup, is very manageable. … We did have some key moments with key guys up to bat. Just missed, up until the very end.”

Cockburn limited those opportunities, keeping Greely’s hitters off balance and taking a shutout into the sixth.

“I’ve been here twice before already, so I used that to my advantage,” said Cockburn, who added a single and a double.

Greely scored in the sixth, with Brooks Williams drawing a leadoff walk and eventually scoring on a wild pitch.

Cockburn was out of pitches when Freeport Coach Steve Shukie brought in Wing with runners on first and second and two outs.

“Definitely walking out I was nervous,” Wing said, “but as soon as I stepped on that mound I took a deep breath and settled down a bit.”

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Wing escaped the jam with a grounder to second, then found himself in a tight spot again in the seventh when Mark Axelsen III singled up the middle with one out and he hit Ryan Kolben to put the winning run on. Wing rebounded, however, by getting Williams and Zach Johnston to fly out to complete the upset.

“It’s a very good feeling. That’s a very good baseball team we beat,” Shukie said.

“We’ve been in this situation before, but that last out is still an elation.”

Greely starter Kolben was dominant most of the game, striking out 12 and allowing two hits, but he struggled with control early.

He walked four of the first five batters in the first, and issued bases-loaded walks to Thomas Roy and Nathan Abbott to give Freeport the lead.

Kolben struck out three straight to leave the bases loaded, and Soule praised his senior for bouncing back.

“I’m very proud of the way we recovered after a tough start,” Soule said.

“Kolben really locked in. That’s the guy we’ve seen all year.”


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