Jeffrey Randall and Ethan Blue, foreground, of Lewiston react after Randall and Blue crossed the plate to put Lewiston up 4-2 over York during the 11/12 Little League state tournament in Lewiston last week. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

If first impressions are everything, the Lewiston Little League All-Stars baseball players have quite the opportunity in front of them.

The Maine state champions drew the opening game of the New England Region Major Division Tournament, which gets underway Sunday in Bristol, Connecticut. Lewiston faces Walpole, the Massachusetts state champ, at 1 p.m.

Lewiston manager Jim Caron said he’s “indifferent” about his team playing in the opening game, but he likes the idea of being able to “just kind of get it out of the way” and “not sitting around waiting.”

“I don’t think it really makes a difference,” Caron said. “I think we’re good.”

Normally, a state champion goes into the regional tournament blind, having not seen any of the other five New England state representatives play. But Caron happens to have a potential ace up his sleeve.

“I’m fortunate. I have a really good friend of mine — one of our coaches in Lewiston is from Braintree, and he’s actually friends with the head coach from Braintree, and he played (Massachusetts champion) Walpole,” Caron said. “So he kind of gave us, not the low-down, but he kind of let us know what we’re going to be up against, which is pretty cool.


“At the end of the day, I don’t know if it will really make a difference, but it’s kind of cool. We got people looking out for us, how’s that, other than just us.”

Caron said he knows his team, the first state champion from Lewiston to play in the New England tournament, will be going up against a “good baseball team” in Walpole, which beat Braintree American in a seven-inning affair to claim the Massachusetts state title.

Lewiston’s lead coach admitted that “everybody’s going to be nervous,” but that’s to be expected. The team has “had the jitters” during its entire tournament run (District 5 and states), but that hasn’t stopped the group from going farther than it ever has before.

“They’ll be nervous, but once you step on the diamond, I think they’ll be fine,” Caron said. “It’s a pretty seasoned group, for 12-year-olds. They’ve been playing together for a long time, so I think we’ll be fine.”

Caron said his kids are a tight group, as far as chemistry goes, but they’ve also been “loose, really loose” in the leadup to their first New England tournament.

“Actually, I had to get on them a little bit (at Thursday night’s practice) because they’re almost too loose,” Caron said. “You know, they’re getting excited, which is cool.”


Caron said he expects them to tighten up by game time Sunday.

He added that the boys are aware of the brighter spotlight they will be under. The early days of the tournament will be on ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN+, but the later rounds will be on TV.

Lewiston closing pitcher Michael Caron is surrounded by teammates after he made a diving catch for an out against York during the Little League state tournament in Lewiston last Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“They already understand that if they make it to Thursday they’ll be on actual ESPN,” Caron said. “So they’re fully aware the fact that that opportunity is there for them, so they’re pretty pumped about it.”

Caron said that while the players like to goof around, they also understand what their roles are. When it’s time to play baseball, they’re locked in.

Lewiston’s team will be going into the New England tournament on the back of its pitching depth and solid defense, “which is what you want going into a tournament like this,” Caron said.

Of the 14 players on the team, 10 can pitch, according to Caron, though not all of the arms were used in either the district or state tournaments. And as far as the defense goes, Caron said he can “plug kids anywhere and feel totally comfortable with anybody we put in the field to do the job.”


And Lewiston will plug every player in. The coaching staff holds firm that every player will go beyond the minimum playing requirement that every player must get at least one at-bat or one defensive inning. Caron and assistants Nate Randall and Ron Chartier find ways to get every player both, though in the one game Lewiston lost in the state tournament that didn’t happen.

“If we’re going to go down to Bristol, we want to compete and we want to win, but at the end of the day I want it to be an experience for them. And you’re not going to get an experience if you’re just going to sit on the bench and get one at-bat a game,” Caron said. “Every boy on this team is capable of getting in the field for an inning, or a couple innings, or whatever it is.

“Situations always come up in baseball, but I’m 99 percent confident that we’re going to get all these boys in to play baseball this tournament.”

No matter how Lewiston does or how far it goes in the tournament, the players and coaches are already excited to just go down and play.

Caron said he’s heard from lots of people — some who he hasn’t heard from in a long time — and they are all excited for the team, as well.

And for Caron and his assistants, its a long-awaited opportunity for a trio that has been together for years.

“Nate Randall, my assistant coach, my son and Jeffrey, his son, were in strollers when we were coaching our older kids in T-ball,” Caron said. “So we’ve been around each other for a long, long time coaching, and it’s pretty cool.”

The Lewiston Little League All-Stars team’s 14 players are Ian Allen, Dylan and Ethan Blue, Michael Caron, Spencer Chartier, Joseph Dube, Charles Foster, Mason Laflamme, Matthew Levasseur, Cameron Morin, Ethan Pelletier, Jeffrey Randall, Andrew Theriault and Dylan Whitlow.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.