Monmouth’s first baseman, Trevor Flanagan, loses the ball as Mountain Valley’s Dylan Desroches gets back on the base earlier this season in Rumford. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Recent history in the state baseball tournament gives both the top seeds and Cinderellas something to cling to as the 2018 playoffs begin next week.

Five of the eight regions’ top seeds justified their rankings by reaching the state title game in 2017. Top seeds Bangor (Class A) and Searsport (Class D) joined No. 3 seed Orono (Class C) and the latest inspiration to underdogs everywhere, No. 9 Yarmouth (Class B), as state champions.

Bangor and Searsport are the only holdover top seeds among that group this year, and both have impressive gold ball streaks they hope to extend — the Rams have won four in a row, the Vikings three in a row.

The preliminary round begins June 5, and quarterfinal action is scheduled for June 7. State championship Saturday is June 16.

A North

Several teams have taken turns trying to put pressure on Bangor throughout the season, but the Rams (15-1) are once again the team to beat. 

Oxford Hills, considered Bangor’s preseason co-favorite in some circles, has the distinction of handing the Rams their only loss. As the No. 2 seed, the Vikings won’t have to worry about a potential rematch with Bangor until the regional final. But they may be just as happy to avoid No. 4 Lewiston, which has beaten the Vikings twice this season and enters the tournament having won 12 of 13.

No. 3 Edward Little started the season 12-0 but was knocked off-track by its first loss at Bangor. The Red Eddies dropped three of their last four to end the regular season. If anything could snap them out of that funk, it could be a quarterfinal matchup with No. 6 Mt. Ararat, which upset the Eddies in last year’s semifinals.

B South

Wells (14-2) is the top seed in a region that has sent its No. 9 (Yarmouth) and No. 7 (Freeport) seeds to the state championship the past two years. 

The latter two schools will have to take the long road back to the final, as will No. 10 Spruce Mountain and No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, which will confront the Clippers and Falcons, respectively, in the preliminary round. No. 9 Leavitt, the lone KVAC representative, travels to No. 8 Fryeburg in the other prelim.

Western Maine Conference teams have won the region the last 11 years. If No. 5 Mountain Valley hopes to break that string, it will have to start with another top WMC team, No. 4 York, in the quarterfinals.

C South

Hall-Dale (15-1) didn’t quite make it through the regular season unscathed, but the Bulldogs did finish it how they started, as the region’s favorites. Defending champion Lisbon didn’t lose sight of the front-runners and will be a tough No. 2 seed.

The field chasing the top two teams is an interesting mix of MVC, KVAC and WMC teams. Maranacook and St. Dom’s, representing the latter two leagues, will meet in one quarterfinal. Lisbon will host the prelim winner between No. 10 Mt. Abram and No. 7 Monmouth in another quarterfinal, while Hall-Dale will draw the winner of the 8/9 prelim between Winthrop and Sacopee Valley.

D South

Searsport (10-6) is largely unknown to the rest of the region, having only played Greenville and Temple during the regular season. Greenville split its doubleheader with the Vikings, and, if the Lakers and No. 2 Richmond survive the quarterfinals, its likely whoever emerges from their semifinal matchup will be the greatest threat to Searsport.

Buckfield and Rangeley might beg to differ, but only one will be able to challenge Searsport in the semifinals. The fourth-ranked Bucks host the fifth-seeded Lakers in the quarterfinals. 

With Oxford Hills’ Jonny Pruett looking to make the tag, Bangor’s Zach Ireland holds onto the bag after sliding into third ahead of the throw on a stolen base during the Vikings win over the Rams last month. (Brewster Burns photo)

Edward Little’s Ethan Brown catches the ball too late to tag Lewiston’s Brock Belanger after a steal attempt during the rivalry matchup at Auburn Suburban Little League in April. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

After making a fantastic diving stop on a hard-hit ground ball, Edward Little’s Nick Hathaway tries to throw out the batter at first but the throw went wide of the base and the runners advanced during a game last month in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Lisbon pitcher Lucas Francis fires the ball at Sprunce Mountain’s Noah Gilbert during a baseball game in Livermore last month. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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