The Eddies’ regular season had concluded a full week earlier, and all they could do was wait and watch the box scores as other teams who still had games to play decided their fate.

On Thursday, the final Heal Points standings bore good news — the Eddies were in. They were in a flat-footed tie for the ninth and final spot with Skowhegan following their final game, but the Indians had lost their final game to Mt. Blue and the subsequent schedule had worked out in EL’s favor.

The finicky Heal gods had been kind to the Eddies. With that in mind, Annear urged his team to treat their playoff resurrection like a present, an early or belated birthday gift.

A voice piped up from the back of the dugout, “What if it’s a knit sweater?” The timing, comic and otherwise, couldn’t have been better.

Whether their season ends in Hampden or five games later at St. Joseph’s College, where the state champion is crowned, the Red Eddies will be plenty loose until that end. Senior third baseman/pitcher/captain/prankster Luke Farrago will make sure of it.

Farrago takes his studies seriously (he’ll graduate 11th in his class). He takes his baseball seriously, too, but not as if his future rides on it.

“He’s just a very engaging character, off the field” Annear said. “On the field, he’s a bulldog. He’s such a competitor and buckles down and gets tough, whether it’s an at bat or if you need a kid to make a tough play in the infield. Off the field, he’s as silly and goofy as they come. And he knows just the right thing to say and when to say it.”

Farrago’s silliness does come out on the diamond, usually before games or during lags in practice. Before games, he’ll often conduct mock interviews with teammates or even with himself. At practice, he and fellow seniors Josh Delong and Nate Blais can often be heard trading good-natured verbal jabs.

“They are always on each other, consistently barking at each other, telling each other they’re not good at this or I’m better than you at that, ripping on each other. As soon as practice is over, they are all buddy-buddy,” Annear said.

“We know when to work. We know when to have fun,” Farrago said. “In practice, you want to have a good time and a loose attitude. But when you’re on the field, you need to get down to business.”

Farrago’s business acumen on the field is so good the Eddies have used him at third base, second base and shortstop and batted him in virtually every spot in the lineup throughout his three-year varsity career. The 5-foot, 7-inch right hander, who was also an all-conference linebacker in football, will take any role seriously.

“He’s always had that knack of being the guy who’s in the middle of everything,” Annear said. “He takes on that role where if he’s at the top of the order, he’s going to try to put the ball in play a little more often and be a table-setter. If he’s in the No. 2 spot, he knows how to move guys around. When he’s in the middle, he’ll knock guys in. We’ve moved him all through the order.”

Farrago has tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Annear to let him catch. It would seem to be a natural fit for the son of Dr. Douglas Farrago, the Auburn family practitioner who invented the catchers’ knee savers, pads that are attached to each shin guard to help save wear and tear on catchers’ legs.

Player and coach have become good friends and Farrago catching has become somewhat of a running joke. Farrago doesn’t mind his plug-and-play role with the Eddies.

“I just do what Coach asks me. I know that Coach knows best and wherever he puts me, that’s where I should be,” he said.

One place Annear may not be able to plug Farrago in during the playoffs is on the mound, where he has been one of the the Eddies’ stalwarts since his sophomore year. His pitching elbow flared up after a May 11 loss to Bangor and he hasn’t thrown from the mound since.

Typically, Farrago downplays what his absence from the mound will mean to EL in the postseason.

“They don’t really need me. Nate Pushard, Nate Blais, John Simpson all throw great,” he said.

Farrago is headed to James Madison in the fall to study business. Annear is urging him to try to walk on for baseball, but he hasn’t decided yet.

Whether his career is winding down or not, Farrago is savoring every moment.

“Every single day coming out here has been an absolute pleasure, with the guys, new guys, old guy, all the coaches,” he said. “Whether it’s practice or games, it’s just the greatest time.”

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