The Freeport High baseball team gathers before the final inning of its Class B South regional final victory Tuesday against York. New coach Kyle Goodrich has preached a team-first philosophy that has the Falcons on the brink of their first state title. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

It’s not easy to pick out Kyle Goodrich from the fresh-faced players in the Freeport High dugout.

But the 34-year-old, first-year head coach has found other ways to stand out.

Freeport (16-3) will take on Ellsworth (18-1) for the Class B baseball state championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. On Tuesday, Freeport upset top-seeded York (16-3) to win the South title.

The Falcons are seeking their first baseball state title. Their only other appearance in the championship game was three years ago, when Old Town beat Freeport, 12-2.

Goodrich has quickly made an impact on the program.

“He’s not exactly a standard varsity coach,” said Shea Wagner, a senior pitcher who has a 5-0 record with a 1.34 ERA and 24 strikeouts in seven starts. “He’s really loose and relaxed around (the players), and just fits in really well with us and keeps things light all the time. … It’s helped a lot to have the team more relaxed and at ease around its coach.”

Equality is at the heart of Goodrich’s coaching style.

“One of the mottos that we’ve used all year long and that’s really stuck is, ‘We, not me,’ ” said Goodrich. “We are a true team. If you watch us on the field, if you watch us in the dugout, there’s no one guy that’s bigger (than any other).”

Goodrich is a familiar face around town, graduating from Freeport High in 2004 before becoming an educational technician at Freeport Middle School. From 2013-18 he served as the Falcons’ junior varsity coach and as an assistant under head coach Bill Ridge.

“I’ve known Coach Goodrich for a while, since I was a little kid in elementary school, so when I first found out he was coaching I looked forward to the season a lot and knew it was going to be a successful season,” said Blaine Cockburn.

Freeport finished the regular season 13-3, earning the No. 3 seed in Class B South. In the playoffs the Falcons blew past sixth-ranked Wells before finishing off two of the teams that beat them in the regular season – No. 2 Greely and No. 1 York – to reach the state title game. The Falcons are riding an eight-game winning streak dating to May 17.

Cockburn and his older brother, Heath, have been at the center of the action. Blaine, a freshman, has emerged as the Falcons’ go-to reliever in high-pressure situations. In 10 innings he’s earned five saves while allowing no runs and one hit with 19 strikeouts.

Heath Cockburn is a starting pitcher with Wagner and sophomore Anthony Panciocco. Another pair of brothers, Toby and William Holt, have handled the middle innings.

Both Cockburn brothers will be available to pitch Satuday after combing for a five-hitter with 11 strikeouts in Tuesday’s regional final. Heath, the winning pitcher, threw 73 pitches. Blaine threw 26 and recorded the save.

Having three pairs of brothers on the roster — the Cockburns, the Holts, and Shea and Gabe Wagner — helps make the Falcons a tight-knit group.

“Our team is like a family. We talk about it, we want baseball to be fun for them,” said Goodrich. “Having brothers (on the team), that creates another bond because you’re playing for your baseball family, but those individuals are playing for something greater, and that’s their brotherhood.”

“It’s a lot of fun to be part of such a successful team, especially with people you live with,” said Wagner. Shea’s younger brother, Gabe, is an outfielder, and the eldest Wagner brother, Colby, a former catcher for the Falcons, graduated in 2018. Their father, Peter, is a volunteer coach. “You’re obviously close with your team but it’s a different kind of relationship with your bother when you’re both (playing) together.”

These bonds, fraternal and otherwise, will be on display Saturday.

“You can see the tangible things on other teams that have got really good players, but there’s one intangible thing about our team and that’s our heart,” said Goodrich. “We give it everything we’ve got.”


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