One or two Heal Points are Maine high school baseball’s equivalent of a thousand miles.

Most of the local representatives in Class B South learned that the hard way a season ago. Oak Hill, Leavitt, Poland and Spruce Mountain all picked off an important win or two while watching a fistful more slip away in the late innings.

When the final outs were recorded, the last figures tabulated, each team narrowly found itself just outside the locked door of the regional playoffs.

“We lost a bunch of a games by one or two runs,” Spruce Mountain coach Brian Dube said, “and that was without a pitcher who had thrown a single varsity inning before the start of the season.”

“We gave up way too many walks and unearned runs and lost four close games because of it,” Leavitt coach Chris Cifelli lamented. “We then found ourselves out of the playoffs by the margin of any one of those victories.”

Gray-New Gloucester was the only local entry to make the Class B playoff cut, but that preliminary round appearance was the farewell performance for several valuable seniors.

The Patriots will restructure their pitching staff on the shoulders of mostly underclassmen, including juniors Zack Mann, John Henry Villanueva, Eric Gilbert and Nathanie Brindley and sophomores Tanner Mann, Josiah Rottari and Cam Usher.

“There are several key positions to fill both offensively and defensively,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Brad Smith said. “We will need to rely on an enthusiastic group of underclassmen to fill those gaps, and hopefully they will continue to develop throughout the season.”

One other Class B club did sneak into the tournament. Mountain Valley accomplished that feat in Class C, however.

In their return to Class B, where the Falcons have spent most of their program’s history, the big question is how the smaller schools of the MVC will prepare them for the heavy hitters they might encounter in June.

Coach Steve LaPointe expects April and May to be amply competitive.

“The league is real tough this year,” LaPointe said. “Many of the teams have key players returning. All the teams seem to have a defined ace. We’d like to be able to compete on a game-to-game basis.”

Tim Fitzgerald (5-4 in 2015) is the rock of the Falcons’ rotation. Jacob Beauchesne should provide a solid No. 2 thrower, and the Falcons should be strong defensively with Nick Newman returning behind the plate and John Pepin back at shortstop.

LaPointe also is enthusiastic about a freshman class that features center fielder Jacob Blanchard and pitchers Cam Godbois, Garrett Garbarini and Ethan Laubauskas.

Leavitt won’t lack experience as it tries to make up that small margin and put itself in the playoff picture. Of seven seniors, six played significant roles last season, including pitchers Chad Morin, Julian Kirouac and Chandler Lajoie.

Kevin Knight and Nick Angello anchor the right side of the infield. Kirouac, Zac Dymond and Christian Callahan are outfield incumbents.

“Lots of kids on this roster have varsity experience, and it should serve them well in a very competitive Class B KVAC.” Cifelli said. “The league has the usual suspects leading the way, but there are a lot of teams that could beat anyone on a given day. I believe the travel will factor into some wins and losses.”

Spruce Mountain snagged an early-season win over Leavitt before struggling through most of its rookie campaign in the KVAC.

The Phoenix’s talented junior class has a better idea what to expect this time. Nate Goodine and Austin Gilboe comprise a solid one-two in the rotation, with Caulin Parker catching. Center fielder Noah Preble posted the team’s top batting average as a freshman and sophomore and will bat leadoff.

Seniors Ian O’Donnell and Sebastian Lombardi man the corners defensively and also should contribute as pitchers and key bats in the lineup. They get a boost from classmate Andrew Darling’s return to baseball, as well.

“Our goal is to win enough games to get to the .500 mark and make the tournament, and I think these guys can do it,” Dube said. “Last year with five freshmen and 10 sophomores was my youngest team ever. We didn’t have a guy who had ever pitched more than three innings at a time. Our only complete game of the season was our last game.”

Oak Hill figures to finish in the top half of the MVC and return to the playoffs after the one-year hiatus on the strength of seniors Dalton Therrien and Jonah Martin.

Both will play in college. Therrien, a shortstop, is signed with Endicott, while Martin, the Raiders’ pitching ace, plans to attend Franklin Pierce.

“They lead the team on and off the field,” Oak Hill coach Matt Bray said. “Therrien may have had the best statistical offensive year in the conference in 2015, all with a partially torn hamstring.”

Connor Nilsson will be a key arm and bat, and he plays strong defense in the outfield. Out of the junior class, Kaleb Morrissette is crucial to the growth of the pitching staff, while Adam Mooney is among the hopefuls to replace four-year starting catcher Jake Bannister.

The Raiders beat Class C champion St. Dom’s and held late-game leads against Dirigo and Winthrop.

“That helped a young team build confidence for this season,” Bray said.

Poland will be one of the youngest teams in the WMC. The junior battery of Ben Bernier (2-1, 2.37 ERA, 37 strikeouts in 41 innings) and catcher Jake Wiseman leads the way.

“We are going with two seniors,” Poland coach Mike Connor said. “The junior and freshman class are talented. We may make some mistakes early because we are young. Bernier has the stuff to beat anyone in the conference.”

Two-time defending champion Greely and Yarmouth should lead in the pack in Poland’s league. Cape Elizabeth has been on the rise. As for WMC dark horses, Connor projects Wells, while Smith thinks Lake Region could be in the mix.

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