LIVERMORE FALLS — The end of an era arrived Friday.
After decades of competition, hundreds of matches, meets and games and numerous exchanges of bragging rights across artificial borders that divide a pair of towns in name only, Livermore Falls’ Jake Keene squeezed a throw at first base from Jimmy Seitz at second, closing the final chapter of athletic competition between the Andies and their rivals from Jay.
“I told Jimmy Seitz going out, I said, ‘Just like sophomore year, you and me, we’re making the last out,'” Keene said. “It came true. We lucked out.”
In a matchup that meant more to many than another lopsided Andies victory over the Tigers, three Livermore Falls players hit home runs, every batter reached base at least once and the Andies batted around twice in four innings in a 15-5 win, the third such beat down in as many meetings between the rivals this season.
“It’s always great beating Jay, and beating them for the last time is great,” winning pitcher Bryan Maurais said. “Winning like this, it shows the kind of heart we have, and when we put ourselves to it, we can beat anybody. We all knew it was going to be the last one in any sport. We all wanted it bad, and I’m sure in the other dugout they wanted it just as bad. It’s pretty surreal knowing that Jay and Livermore Falls won’t ever play in any sport again. I’m glad we got the win.”
“We tried to downplay it. We tried to make it low key and keep it from being a bigger distraction than it already was,” Jay coach Mike Simoneau said. “You can’t play well when you’re tight. We all know that. I’m happy to be here, though. It’s sad for the end of Jay, but excited for what the school will be.”
The win also lifted Livermore Falls to its eighth win of the season and, after an 0-4 start, the Andies reached .500 in their final game.
“The umpire seemed to have a pretty tight zone, and that worked in our favor,” Livermore Falls coach Brian Dube said. “We’re a good hitting team, and we can turn on a fastball.”
Maurais, a senior, also belted his third home run in two games against Jay in as many days. His three-run blast in the second inning put the home-standing Andies in front 9-0 at the time.
“We got the lead early and it allowed Bryan to settle in,” Dube said. “We just continued to add on after that.”
“They’re a great team, they’re a great hitting team and they’re hard to get out,” Simoneau said. “It was six seniors starting (for Livermore Falls) against five freshmen (for Jay), and it showed.”
Hunter Brett had a two-run shot in the opening frame, and Evan Castonguay added a grand slam as Livermore Falls roared out to a 6-0 lead with no outs in the first inning.
“I knew in batting practice, the way the ball was jumping off the bats, there was some thin air up there,” Dube said. “I knew if we made good contact the ball would carry today.”
Jay starter Eli Capen appeared to settle down after the outburst, but the deficit was too great for Jay’s young squad in its season-finale.
The Andies added another run in the third to push their lead to 10-0 on a double, a stolen base and a sacrifice, and after Jay tacked on a pair in the top of the fourth, Livermore Falls unloaded for five more in the bottom of the inning. Alex Rose stole his third base of the game and 17th of the season in that inning, tying a school record for most swipes in a season. He was pushing for his 18th and the record by himself, but Ben Keene lined a double to right on a 1-1 pitch. Rose scored, but remained stuck at 17 stolen bases.
The Tigers made things interesting in the top of the fifth. After a fly ball to center, Brandon Stearns singled and Eric Taylor walked. After a strikeout, Capen appeared in the batter’s box. After allowing three home runs as the pitcher for Jay, Capen joined in the fun, ripping a belt-high 2-1 fastball over the left-field fence.
“I’m not a power hitter at all,” Capen said with a smirk. “I thought it was going to be a lazy pop fly, but it kept going. We tried to not go down without a fight.”
Two pitches later, Seitz flipped a slow grounder from Scottie Hall over to Jake Keene, who squeezed the final out in his oversized mitt to end the game. Keene then ran over to Dube and handed him the ball.
“It got there quick,” Keene said. “It was a great feeling to know we were out there for the last out. (Seitz and I) are the only two who can say that. It feels great.”
The Andies must now wait to see if, at 8-8, they will qualify for the nine-team Western Class C playoff field. Other teams still have a handful of games to play before the Heal Points are settled.
“Our goal is to improve as the season goes, and we did that,” Dube said. “We started the season without our seniors and lost four, but we’re 8-4 since then. Now we just have to wait it out.”