HIRAM — The Sacopee Valley High baseball team steamrolled its way to the top seed in Class C South, outscoring opponents 153-19 with seven shutouts during a 16-0 season. Only four times did the Hawks surrender more than one run in a game.

As they embark on the playoffs this week as the state’s only undefeated baseball team, the Hawks are fueled by a pair of postseason defeats the past two years: a 2-0 loss to Maranacook in the 2022 regional semifinals and a 3-2 loss to Mt. Abram in the 2021 quarterfinals.

Running roughshod over the competition in April and May loses luster if you don’t finish the job in June. The Hawks last won the Class C title in 2016.

“It’s on my mind all the time. I think a lot of people outside of us think we’re invincible because we’re 16-0, but I know it’s not the case,” said junior infielder Caleb Vacchiano. “I’m always thinking of the playoffs, no matter who the team is, and not taking them lightly.”

Sacopee Valley will host a quarterfinal game Thursday against the winner of Tuesday’s prelim game between No. 9 Hall-Dale (6-10) and No. 8 Dirigo (10-6).

“The big thing is, we feed off each other’s energy. We notice a lot of our big rallies are when everyone’s loud in the dugout. We just feed off of that,” said Hawks senior pitcher/infielder Grady Cummings, who plans to play baseball at Central Maine Community College next year.


As a team, Sacopee Valley hit ..366 in the regular season, with 15 home runs. The Hawks were even better pitching, boasting a team ERA of 0.72, with 146 strikeouts and 30 walks in 97 innings. Opponents hit .141.

“I watched all these guys as they were coming up through,” said Coach Jamie Stacey, who played on Sacopee Valley’s 1992 state championship team as a senior, and returned to coach his alma mater in 2020. “They were winning all-star tournaments. They were winning travel ball tournaments. You could tell they were good ballplayers even then, and they just continued to play together. They’re just a great bunch of boys who happen to play baseball really good.”

The Hawks bonded over an April vacation trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in which they went 4-0 and played teams from other parts of the country.

Carson Black throws to first during a Sacopee Valley practice. Black is 7-0 with a 0.63 ERA, with 58 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“Then in the season opener we put up 21 runs (a 21-1 win over Richmond), and I just got a good feeling from there,” said Carson Black, a senior pitcher/infielder.

Black and Cummings are the Hawks’ top pitchers. Both righties, they have battled to see who can be more dominant. Black is 7-0 with a 0.63 ERA, with 58 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings. Cummings is 5-0 with a 0.82 ERA, striking out 44 in 34 1/3 innings.  Cummings tossed a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over Mount View on May 27, and Black threw a perfect game in a 10-0 win over Maranacook on May 6.

“This was the only team to hand us a loss last year, three times, and I get to throw a perfect game against them,” said Black, who will play at USM next season. “It’s fun to have competition while you’re pitching and while you’re hitting, too. … That just encourages us both to perform at our very best.”


The two push each other, Stacey said. Umpires have told Stacey and Hawks catcher Austin Croteau they need to be careful when working the plate with Black on the mound, as his slider has such a sharp, late break they don’t want to anticipate the call. Cummings is fearless on the mound, a bulldog who doesn’t sweat when in a jam, Stacey said. Behind the plate, Croteau enjoys working with both.

“I’ve been catching them since I was little. Each of their no-hitters, not a lot of contact. A lot of swing and misses. The hitters who can hit speed, we just throw them some sliders and they can’t hit those either,” said Croteau, who is one of the team’s top hitters with a .417 average, three home runs and 24 RBI. He plans to play at UMaine-Farmington next year.

Junior Caleb Vacchiano takes a swing during a practice at Sacopee Valley High. He is batting .635 this season with seven home runs, 35 RBI and 29 runs. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

In a deep lineup, Vacchiano stands out. The junior is batting .635 with seven home runs, 35 RBI and 29 runs. In 62 plate appearances, Vacchiano struck out just twice in the regular season. Stacey calls him the best high school hitter he’s seen, and the junior has already committed to play for the University of Maine.

“He works at it. He’s very humble. Nothing’s good enough,” Stacey said. “I remember him saying that when he first started playing travel ball, he was batting seventh and eighth. He wanted to bat third or fourth. So he was in the cage with his dad, working on it every night. He’s a perfectionist.”

Stacey points to one regular season game that could set the tone for the playoffs, a walk-off 6-5 win over St. Dominic on May 22. Stacey told the team they need to keep the focus they had in that final inning throughout the postseason after losing close playoffs games in each of the past two years.

“They know how that feels, and they want a taste of the other side,” Stacey said. “These guys are just happy go lucky guys. Every game’s a new game.”

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