The Ararat baseball team celebrates after winning the Cal Ripken Baseball 11u state title Wednesday in Harrison. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

HARRISON — Andy Valley never gave up, inching closer and closer to Ararat’s big lead in the sixth inning. 

Landon Springer, Ararat’s relief pitcher, gave up a few runs but after a visit by teammates and head coach AJ Kavanaugh at the mound, he struck out the final batter to earn Ararat a 5-4 victory and the 11U Maine Cal Ripken state championship Wednesday night. 

“My heart was beating so fast, and the score got closer and closer, but we got the final strikeout,” Ararat catcher Anthony Kavanaugh said. “(Landon) was awesome. He didn’t miss much, and he was throwing right to me.”

“Landon came in in the first game against Andy Valley (earlier in the tournament, a 4-3 Ararat win),” AJ Kavanaugh added. “He came in and shut the door. I was really proud of him. Nerves got going but he held on. We had a quick team meeting at the mound, everyone settled, and they got the out.” 

Ararat pitches to Andy Valley during the Cal Ripken Baseball 11u state final Wednesday in Harrison. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

Andy Valley entered the final inning trailing 5-1. 

Mason Ridley opened the frame with a triple and was followed by a walk from Niko Powers that put runners on the corners. Toby Oufiero then singled to score Ridley and cut the deficit to 5-2. 

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Jacoby Parrott struck out after a groundout, but the third strike went to the back stop, which allowed Powers to score and Oufiero to reach third, making it a 5-3 game. 

Keeham Ridley walked and a misplay in the field plated Oufiero to get Andy Valley within a run, 5-4. 

That’s when Ararat met at the mound to calm the nerves, except Springer didn’t have any. 

“I knew we would finish it out,” Springer said. “I was just trying to throw as many strikes as I could, and we did it. It felt amazing. I couldn’t believe it.”

The Ararat baseball team poses with the championship trophy after winning the Cal Ripken Baseball 11u state title Wednesday in Harrison. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

A year ago, Ararat’s 10U team lost to Andy Valley 11-2. This year’s 11U team has many kids that moved up from that team and wanted to get some revenge. 

“It’s been such a ride,” AJ Kavanaugh said. “We started early June, started practicing and these guys have a lot of holdovers from last year’s 10U team that lost to Andy Valley. So they all wanted to get back here and have another crack at them. They played unbelievable and they got along, had fun, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

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After both teams scored a run in the second inning, Ararat created a big cushion in the third inning. 

Maddy Durant singled to open the bottom of the third and was later driven in on a single that put Ararat ahead 2-1. 

“She sets the table for us,” AJ Kavanaugh said. “We’ve had her in that two spot and she gets us going. She led off a couple innings and the base hits were huge to get us going.”

The bases loaded up later in the inning for David Vincent, who tripled and plated all three runners to put Ararat up 5-1. 

Ararat was able to hang on for the win. 

“It felt awesome,” Vincent said.

Dan Millett, Andy Valley’s head coach, was happy with how his team battled until the final out. Andy Valley played in front many games this summer, so Wednesday’s game was a challenge it hadn’t faced much this season. 

“There was no give up,” Millett said. “In the past, we’ve had leads and it showed a lot of heart to work hard and come back. They didn’t give up … We just keep fighting. Even when we have a big lead, we keep playing. They just love baseball.”

With Maine serving as the host, both Ararat and Andy Valley qualified to play in the 11U Cal Ripken New England tournament in Harrison, starting July 16.


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