Lewiston Little League 11-12 All-Star team, which won the District 5 championship, is hosting the state tournament, which runs Saturday through Friday or next Saturday at Giroux Field. RAM Sports photography

The Lewiston Little League 11/12 All-Stars enter the state tournament on a hot streak. 

Lewiston outscored its three opponents in the District 5 tournament by a score of 28-2, showing that it should be a real force in the upcoming Maine Little League state tournament, which it hosts at Giroux Field at the Elliot Little League complex in Lewiston. 

The tournament begins Saturday with Machias and Bronco facing off, followed by Medomak Valley’s showdown with Cumberland North Yarmouth. The tournament runs through either next Friday or Saturday. 

Lewiston assistant coach Ron Chartier said his team was lucky enough, through a random draw, to receive a bye into the second round, where the Lewiston team will face the winner of the Machais-Bronco game Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

“I suspect it will be District 3 (Bronco), they’re a pretty tough team,” Chartier said. “They fought through the loser’s bracket. They’re mostly Hampden, but a couple of smaller towns, too. They had to beat Old Town to advance.”

DEEP AND POWERFUL

Lewiston’s journey through the district tournament was a smooth one, for the most part. Lewiston started with a takedown of Dirigo and ended with a strong performance against a tough Augusta team in a 7-0 win. 

“It could have been a lot closer,” Chartier said. “I think they were a little intimidated by the record coming in. It’s become sort of an All-Star rivalry.”

Joseph Dube pitched four innings of shutout baseball, striking out eight batters and only allowing one hit and one walk. Dube is one of the players Chartier is leaning on to have another strong tournament for Lewiston to advance as far as possible. 

Jeffrey Randall is also a player to watch this tournament.

“Jeffrey was the starting pitcher for most of the district tournament,” Chartier said. “He’s pitched lights-out and has been very, very solid on the mound, and his bat has come alive, as well. He’s been a big part of our offense through the tournament. He had a home run. 

“Joe Dube, also. He’s a big kid, a power hitter, and a pitcher. Him and Jeffery went back-to-back in a game in the tournament.”

Michael Caron threw the final two innings of Lewiston’s close-out win over Augusta, and also tacked on two hits to help send the team to the state tournament. 

“These kids have been playing together since they were 10 years old,” head coach Jim Caron said. “It’s a tight group and a good group of boys. We have a good pitching staff. We like the idea — we pride in that we don’t have stars. We have 14 boys and anyone can take their spot. It’s been very fun to watch them play as a group.”

Caron, like Chartier, is excited about the depth the team has this year and thinks it can take them all the way. 

“Mason Laflamme batted almost .900 in the tournament,” Caron said. “Michael Caron hit one 209 feet, 11.5 inches. As a group of boys, we have talked about (with) our guys, everybody has a place on the bus. Once we all understand that and where we all fit, we’re going to have success. If we execute, we have a chance to really do something special for the city of Lewiston.”

FUTURE BRIGHT

Lewiston has had a lot of success over the past four years. This year’s 11/12-year-old age group’s success is based on the foundation that was set at the 8/9 level. 

“This is the fourth year in a row we have carried three age groups from All-Stars to the state tournament,” Chartier said. “9/10, 10/11 and 11/12, for the last four years. You’re going to see the kids coming up into the middle school and high school and you’ll see the high school winning records coming back.”

Portland-area teams, as well as Bangor teams, have had a stronghold on the state of Maine during the time Caron has been at the helm of Lewiston the past four seasons. He think his squad can shake things up in 2019. 

“This is my sixth all-star (team) as a coach, fourth as a head coach, and District 3, the Bangor area, has always had a strong team,” he said. “Districts 4 and 6, the southern divisions, they pretty much rule it the last six years. We want to give them something this year.”

Caron also believes that the base future is bright for the city.

“Since we’ve brought in our Junior Legion program in last year, Lewiston baseball is really exciting,” Caron said. “There’s a strong group of U14s, Pastime’s Senior Legion team is strong, it’s really good baseball. These boys here, everyone of them has played in at least two state tournaments.”

District 5 consists of only four teams, including Lewiston. The four teams play 15 games during the Majors season before the district tournament. Then, after the tournament, the coaches and administrators for the district get together and grade players and then choose which players make the all-star team. 

Auburn, as many surrounding towns such as Sabattus and Green do, play in Cal Ripken leagues that aren’t associated with Little League 

“The difference (between Little League and Cal Ripken) is pretty much Little League is a lot stricter in how the game is run,” Caron said. “Little League is structured nationally. From pitch count to rules in general. Rules are the rules. Cal Ripken is a little more relaxed.”

ARMS RACE

Pitch count is a huge part of the game plan for every coach in the state tournament. If a player throw less than 20 pitches, he doesn’t need a day’s worth of rest. If he throws 20-35, he must rest one day. The days of rest required increases incrementally all the way to five days for 80 pitches.

“If you don’t pay attention to pitch count you can throw yourself out of a tournament,” Caron said. “As a coach, you’re going through that the whole time. The first weekend, that’s where it is all about pitch count. If you’re in the loser’s bracket you’re basically playing every day.”

Lewiston has 10 pitchers on the 14-man roster, Caron said. That will be a real weapon as it progresses through the week. Caron sees his team as real contenders to come out of the state and represent Maine at the New England tournament. 

“We want to win it,” Caron said. “We aren’t satisfied. Our motto is, ‘Never be satisfied with what you’ve got right now.’ We want to represent the state of Maine in New Englands. Our pitching depth is the deepest we’ve had in a long time.”