GORHAM — South Portland High clean-up hitter Nolan Hobbs looked at the situation and was a bit surprised.

The Red Riots had a two-run lead over Edward Little in the bottom of the fifth inning of the Class A baseball state championship game Tuesday afternoon at the University of Southern Maine’s Ed Flaherty Field.

Runners on second and third.

Two outs.

Hobbs had already boomed an RBI double and Edward Little Coach Dave Jordan had intentionally walked three South Portland hitters to create force-out situations.

But this time, Jordan felt left-handed relief pitcher Campbell Cassidy’s curveball and two-seam fastball combination would get Hobbs out.


On an 0-2 count, Hobbs drilled a pitch up in the zone for a two-run single, the big blow in South Portland’s 5-0 victory.

“When I saw first base open I thought he might walk me. They didn’t and I kind of took that as a little disrespectful,” said Hobbs, one of 12 South Portland seniors. “All right, you’re not going to walk me? OK, I’ll show you what I can do. I was just ready to hit the ball hard.”

South Portland, the second seed from the South, finished 17-3. Edward Little (12-8), the North’s eighth seed, was in its first title game since winning Class A in 1992.

Hobbs is one of South Portland’s “Core Four” along with Andrew Heffernan, Johnny Poole and Richie Gilboy. Standouts in Little League, Babe Ruth and key contributors as sophomores for the 2021 championship, each made significant contributions on Tuesday.

“It’s what you dream of. This whole group we’ve been through so much and it’s how you dream of going out at the end,” said Hobbs, who went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBI.

Heffernan pitched the complete-game three-hit shutout, struck out six and scored two runs. Heffernan was also the winning pitcher in the 2021 title game.


“It was a really special group of guys, we had a lot of seniors, so it was really nice ending it off this way,” Heffernan said.

Shortstop Johnny Poole was sharp in the field and drew a key one-out walk in the fifth after falling behind 0-2. Richard Gilboy handled third and drove in the second run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

Senior Jaelen Jackson is better known as South Portland’s two-time state champion basketball point guard and standout football quarterback. Playing his first season of baseball since fourth grade, Jackson drew a one-out walk to start the four-run fifth inning and prompt Edward Little to relieve starter Drew Smith with Cassidy.

Poole followed with his grinding walk, while Jackson stole second and third. After Poole stole second, Heffernan was intentionally walked

Gilboy’s sacrifice fly to medium right scored Jackson and set the stage for Hobbs’ two-run single. Hudson Iacuessa, a freshman, drove in the final run on a sharp single to left.

Because of rain, the game was rescheduled from Saturday to Tuesday. That meant both teams had all their pitchers available for maximum duty.

Through three innings, Heffernan and Smith were locked in a pitchers’ duel.

Smith struck out six of the first 10 hitters he faced before Heffernan doubled to deep center with one out in the fourth. After Gilboy was intentionally walked, Hobbs one-hopped the left-field fence to score Heffernan.

“The message in the dugout was just stick with the plan. Make sure we had quality at-bats and we weren’t chasing,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “Making him come into the zone and then hopefully we would make things happen.”

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