SACO — There are a lot of things that Jamie Gagnon likes about his Saco Little League baseball team. But one characteristic stands out in his mind.

“They genuinely love the game of baseball,” Gagnon said of the 11- and 12-year-olds. “If I show up at 5:15 for a 5:30 practice, I’m 15 minutes late because they’ve been there for 15 minutes waiting around for me, just playing on the field. And they’ll stick around 30 minutes after we end just to take extra reps.

“They genuinely love baseball and they enjoy playing with each other.”

And it shows. Saco, which also draws players from nearby Dayton, won the Maine Little League state championship last week, overcoming an opening loss in the tournament to win five games in a row over six days. Now Saco will represent Maine in the New England Regional Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut.

Saco, which will receive a big send-off at 9 a.m. Saturday, will play New Hampshire in its opener of the double-elimination tournament at 7 p.m. Sunday. Should Saco win, it will play the Massachusetts champ at 7 p.m. Monday. A loss in the opener moves Saco into the Tuesday 7 p.m. elimination game.

The championship game will be played on Aug. 14 at 4 p.m. And this year it’s not just the winner of the regional tournament advancing to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, but the top two teams. International teams will not compete this year because of the pandemic, opening the door for additional U.S. teams. Only three teams from Maine have ever advanced to the Little League World Series: Suburban in 1951, Augusta East in 1971 and Westbrook in 2005.


It will be the fifth time a Little League team with Saco ties represents Maine in the regional, the two latest in 2013 and 2018. And Gagnon believes that all the recent success bodes well for baseball in Saco.

“Success breeds success,” he said. “You start getting opportunities like that and kids who are 6 and 7 years old see that happening and they want to stick with the game of baseball and they want to have those opportunities.”

Noah Fullerton is batting .515 with two home runs and 17 RBI for the Saco Little League baseball team. As a pitcher, he’s struck out 42 batters in 24 1/3 innings. Mike Lowe photo

Gagnon likes the makeup of his team. While it certainly has its share of standout players – led by pitcher Noah Fullerton, who’s batting .515 with two home runs and 17 RBI and struck out 42 batters in 24 1/3 innings – everyone plays a role. The first five hitters in the lineup are all hitting over .415, and the rest seem to come up with big hits, or defensive plays, when needed.

“Everyone seemed to contribute, whether at the plate or in the field,” said Gagnon.

He pointed to players like his son, Ryan Gagnon (the catcher and leadoff batter, hitting .529), Colton Cross (who hit his first Little League home run in the state title game) and Ben Indorf (who came through with several strong pitching performances).

Ryan Gagnon said this team likes being together all the time.


“We all have good relationships with each other,” he said. “We do a lot, we go through a lot and pick each other up even when we’re down. … We’re so close. And we’ll probably be close for a long time.”

Cross, when asked what he liked most about this team, simply said, “Just to have fun, be with my friends, and play baseball.”

They’ve been doing it together for a while. As 10-year-olds, this group of players advanced to the New England Regional in Rhode Island, finishing 2-2. They know what to expect and that could make a difference this time around.

“Some of these teams (this year) haven’t been under the spotlight before,” said Fullerton. “I think it will help us tremendously with our team’s ability to deal with those things.”

But that past experience doesn’t guarantee success. Jamie Gagnon noted that none of the teams Saco faced as 10-year-olds advanced to this year’s regional tournament. “That just shows how hard it is to get there and how much talent there is out there,” he said.

Asked if having two teams advance out of the regional takes any pressure off Saco, Ryan Gagnon said, “Kind of, but not really. We know there’s a lot of talent in Bristol and we have to go through those teams. We have to play the best we can.”

And if they can get through and advance to Williamsport? Well, said Fullerton, “that’s the best thing anyone in Little League can imagine.”

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.