“We were neighbors in Auburn,” Twitchell said. “Mike was a couple of years ahead in high school.”

“We grew up playing the same sandlots and ball fields in the summer,” Coutts said “I coached him with New Auburn Legion, and I remember helping him figure out where to go to college.”

That’s when they went their separate ways in the mid-1980s. Coutts played at the University of Maine, Twitchell at Bowdoin College. But baseball reunited them again a few years ago when their then-12-year-old sons joined the same travel team.

With their proud fathers watching from the stands and occasionally the dugout, Jackson Coutts and Ryan Twitchell have thrived together — as members of the Maine Lightning travel team — and separately — Coutts at Orono High School, Twitchell at Greely High School — on the diamond. On Wednesday, both will be signing their National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Rhode Island next fall.

“It’s exciting,” Jackson Coutts said. “We’ve been through a lot together. We went to Cooperstown together. He’s a great guy. I love Ryan. I’ve always had fun playing with him and now we get to continue playing together.”

“It’s going to be great,” Ryan Twitchell said. “I’ve always loved playing with him and now that we get a chance to play together in college, I’m looking forward to it.”


While considering their futures, Coutts and Twitchell weighed other schools such as Hartford, St. John’s, James Madison and Northeastern. Neither knew the other was looking at Rhode Island until Coutts verbally committed to the school during the summer.

“I was a little surprised about that because I didn’t know he was talking to them,” Ryan Twitchell said.

Rhode Island didn’t really enter into the picture until Jackson Coutts, a power-hitting catcher widely considered one of the best hitters in the state, pitched an inning in the Maine Underclass All-Star Game at St. Joseph’s College late last June. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander reached 87 mph on the radar gun and impressed his Lightning coaches enough to get more time on the mound as a closer.

A short time later, he reached 89 while pitching for the Lightning in a showcase in Boston in front of college coaches, including those from the University of Rhode Island.

After visiting the campus and talking with the coaches, Coutts learned he would probably get a chance to play right away for the Rams as a position player and ultimately contribute on the mound, too. 

“I love the coaches there. The facilities are really nice,” he said. “They just won their conference (the Atlantic 10). It’s a great situation.”


Ryan Twitchell, a right-handed pitcher who helped Greely win back-to-back state championships as a freshman and sophomore, was still considering his options when he heard Coutts was going to be a Ram.

Continuing to play together with his friend at a high level of college baseball was enticing, but he wanted to make sure the school was the right fit all the way around before opting to join him.

“I wanted to think about what it would be like without baseball — where would I feel the most comfortable?” Twitchell said. 

Jackson Coutts was thrilled to learn that it turned out to be URI, and admitted he’s looking forward to picking his friend’s brain about pitching.

“He competes really hard,” said Coutts, who caught his friend over the past summer while playing for the Lightning. “He keeps everything low — slider, curve, change-up, and he can throw pretty hard, too.”

The fathers credit their sons’ hard work more than their baseball genes for getting them into DI baseball. They’re also proud that their sons are part of a wave of baseball talent that is developing in Maine.


“They’ve been fortunate to play with some great players (on the Lightning). They’ve got, I think, seven players going DI and three going DII,” Scott Twitchell said.

“It’s exciting to see they’ve made their own path in baseball,”  said Mike Coutts, who is head softball coach at the University of Maine, “and it’s going to be exciting to continue watching them do that together.”

Perhaps to the boys’ chagrin, it will also give the fathers a few more years to reminisce.

“It will allow us to talk some more about the old days,” Mike Coutts said. “Our kids are probably sick of those stories.”

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