AUGUSTA — The two teams combined for only five singles. The only run was scored without a hit.

And, of course, a defensive play would be the game-changer in the Class A baseball state final Saturday at chilly Morton Field.

Thornton Academy center fielder Henry Lausier tracked down a blast by Bangor’s Matt Holmes off Cody Bowker in the fifth inning and made a diving catch in deep right-center with two outs and a runner on first base. Bowker then mowed down Bangor in the sixth and seventh to preserve a 1-0 win and Thornton’s first baseball state championship.

“I love the kid to death,” Bowker said of Lausier. “He hit a lot of balls at people this season and he just kept grinding. I mean, the (batting) average probably wasn’t what he wanted, but that play makes up for everything and he knows it.”

Bangor Coach David Morris put it this way: “Their center fielder made one of the best plays I’ve ever seen.”

Overcast skies and a strong, cool breeze blowing in from left field had fans donning sweatshirts and jackets. That wind also helped Lausier.


“I thought it was a gap shot, was trying to keep the runner from scoring from first, and then the ball stayed up there,” Lausier said. “All I knew after that was the ball was in my glove and I was sliding toward the fence. That ball was crushed. It was in the gap. It just stayed up there long enough for me to catch it.”

Bowker earned the win with four innings of relief and scored the only run. He drew a two-out walk in the third, alertly advanced to second on a wild pitch that skidded only a few feet away from the catcher and scored on an error on Christian Schaffer’s grounder to second base.

Bowker came on in the fourth with runners on the corners and no outs in relief of Thornton starter Josh Kopetski (one hit, no runs, three walks). He shut the door with a shallow fly to center (with Lausier making a strong one-hop throw to home just in case) and two strikeouts.

“Josh got us where we needed to be, and when Cody came in and prevented any runs, that was huge,” said Thornton Coach Jason Lariviere. “I mean, that won the game, too. There were many moments that won the game.”

Over the final two innings, Bowker (one hit, no runs, seven strikeouts) struck out four to finish Thornton’s 20-1 season. Thornton did not make an error and turned in several other good plays, including shortstop Jeremiah Chessie handling a tough hop on a grounder leading off the sixth, and first baseman Brayden Williams’ stretch-and-scoop to record the first out of the fifth.

Bangor starter Wyatt Stevens went the distance, limiting Thornton to three hits. The Rams (18-2) lost in the 2021 state final to South Portland, 3-2. Bangor was in its seventh state final in the last eight seasons, winning five straight championships from 2014-18. Thornton was in its first baseball championship game since Maine went to a statewide playoff format in 1971.

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