PORTLAND—Bad weather thankfully never made an appearance at Fore River Fields Thursday afternoon, so the Waynflete/North Yarmouth Academy co-op baseball team delivered the lightning and thunder instead.

Hosting No. 5 Mt. Abram in a Class C South quarterfinal, Waynflete/NYA rode a pair of early home runs to a seemingly comfortable lead, then held off a late Roadrunners’ rally for a victory that was years in the making.

Junior first baseman Cal Nice singled home senior centerfielder Tanner Anctil (remember those two names) for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and after making a terrific defensive play in the top of the second, Anctil came up huge in the bottom of the third, sparking a three-run uprising with a home run to dead center.

Mt. Abram got three runs back in the top of the fourth, two of them unearned, to seemingly swing momentum to its dugout, but in the bottom half, after Anctil was intentionally walked, Nice crushed a three-run home run the other way to make it 7-3.

The teams traded runs in the fifth, then the Roadrunners scored twice in the sixth and put the tying runs on, but senior Cooper St. Hilaire got a huge strikeout to escape the jam.

Waynflete/NYA then tacked on an insurance run in the bottom half and in the seventh, senior Daxton St. Hilaire shut the door on a 9-6 victory.


Anctil and Nice each had three hits, Nice drove in four runs and Anctil scored three times as Waynflete/NYA improved to 14-3, ended Mt. Abram’s season at 13-5 and advanced to take on top-ranked, undefeated Sacopee Valley (17-0) Saturday at a time to be announced.

“Our goal at the start of the season was to get further than we did last year,” said Waynflete/NYA coach Paul Grazia. “Last year, we were happy to get to (the quarterfinals) and we fell short. We’re so happy to take that next step this year. Our seniors have had tough playoff losses, so I’m so happy for them to get into the next round.”

Taking the next step

On the heels of a terrific 13-5 campaign a year ago, Waynflete/NYA put together an even better season this time around, starting with eight straight victories and posting a record of 13-3, good for the No. 4 seed in Class C South.

Mt. Abram, meanwhile, won its first five games, then posted another five-game win streak late in the year en route to the No. 5 ranking.

Tuesday, in the preliminary round, the Roadrunners dispatched No. 12 Madison, 9-1, in the preliminary round.


The teams didn’t meet this season.

Thursday, on a comfortable 60-degree afternoon, Mt. Abram made things interesting, but Waynflete/NYA did enough to survive and advance, accomplishing something more than a decade in the making, as NYA had last reached the semifinals as a stand-alone program in 2010 with Waynflete getting there the following season.

Waynflete/NYA starter Cole Lambert delivers a pitch. Hoffer photos.

Junior Cole Lambert got the start for Waynflete/NYA and made quick work of the Roadrunners in the first, getting senior shortstop Kaden Pillsbury to fly out on the first pitch of the game to Anctil in center and after plunking sophomore leftfielder Ash Rollins with a pitch, Rollins was thrown out trying to steal by Cooper St. Hilaire, who began the game behind the plate, then sophomore third baseman Bryce Wilcox grounded out to first.

Waynflete/NYA went on top for good in the bottom of the first.

Daxton St. Hilaire, who began the game at shortstop, popped out foul down the leftfield line leading off against Mt. Abram sophomore starting pitcher Logan Dube, but Anctil beat out a bunt single, then stole second before Nice hit a sharp grounder just to the right of Wilcox, down the line for an RBI single. After Cooper St. Hilaire flew out to right, Nice stole second, but he was stranded when junior second baseman Jack Byrne grounded out to second.

Lambert walked junior designated hitter Bear Rollins on a 3-2 pitch to start the top of the second and junior first baseman Cam Grey sacrificed him to second. Senior centerfielder Tyler Plouffe then hit a deep drive to center, but Anctil raced back to the fence to make a terrific catch for the second out.


“It was a tough read,” said Anctil. “I took a few steps in at first, then saw it going over my head. My first thought was to find the fence. I found it, then I got the ball in my glove. I know my speed and I know I have good range. When I see the ball in the air, I’m always trying to get there.”

Lambert then got junior catcher Payton Mitchell to line out to left to end the threat.

In the bottom half, Dube got freshman third baseman Dylan Kullman to ground out to third leading off. Senior rightfielder Lincoln Smith then singled to right-center and junior leftfielder Cayden Violette walked, but after junior designated hitter Oscar Twinning sacrificed the runners up a base, Daxton St. Hilaire popped out to second on the first pitch he saw to keep the score 1-0.

In the third, Lambert got freshman rightfielder Kaiden Longley to bunt out to third and after walking freshman second baseman Killian Pillsbury, he got Kaden Pillsbury to bounce out third-to-short before Rollins blooped the ball into centerfield, where Byrne went back and made a nice running catch to retire the side.

Waynflete/NYA then returned to its scoring ways in the bottom of the third.

Anctil led off and turned on a Dube offering, driving it deep to center, over the head of Plouffe and over the fence for a 2-0 lead.


Waynflete/NYA’s Tanner Anctil rounds third after hitting a third inning home run.

“At first, I didn’t think it was out,” said Anctil. “I thought it would go off the fence and I would have to leg it out for a double, but it got over and I was excited. Playing from ahead was big. We had more confidence and there wasn’t as much pressure on us.”

“(Tanner’s) so dynamic with the bat,” said Grazia. “He can bunt and other times, he hits line drives all over the plate. Having him in our lineup gives us a lot of options.”

Nice then singled up the middle and Cooper St. Hilaire doubled to deep left to put runners at second and third. That brought up Byrne, who grounded out to short, scoring Nice and on the play, Kaden Pillsbury threw wildly, allowing St. Hilaire to take third. Junior Matt Powers came on to run for Byrne and stole second. Kullman grounded out short-to-third, but St. Hilaire came home with another run. After Smith grounded back to the mound, moving Kullman to second, Violette lined out to short, but Waynflete/NYA had a 4-0 lead.

“We learned from last year that getting up early and being aggressive with the bats was important,” Grazia said. “We want other teams to make the plays on us. Playing from ahead gives us a lot of opportunities to bury mistakes and play with a sense of aggressiveness.”

The Roadrunners then got right back in the game in the top of the fourth.

Wilcox walked on a 3-2 pitch to get things started, then Bear Rollins drew a base on balls as well. After Wilcox stole third, Rollins was thrown out trying to steal second, but Grey drew a walk, then Plouffe singled to right for Mt. Abram’s first run. After an errant pickoff throw, Grey moved to third, then Plouffe stole second. Lambert appeared poised to escape the jam when he got Mitchell to ground to third, where Kullman threw home to nab Grey, but senior pinch-hitter Tre Pease’s pop-up to shallow right was dropped by Byrne, allowing both runners to score. Killian Pillsbury drew a walk, then a passed ball moved both runners up, but Lambert got the third out by inducing a fly out to center off the bat of Kaden Pillsbury.


Waynflete/NYA got the three runs right back, with one mighty swing of the bat, in the bottom of the fourth, against Mitchell, who came on in relief.

Twinning bounced out to short leading off, but Daxton St. Hilaire hit a double down the leftfield line and Roadrunners coach Jeff Pillsbury opted to intentionally walk Anctil, bringing up Nice.

Who immediately made Mt. Abram pay by pounding a Mitchell offering the other way, deep to right, and way over the fence for a three-run bomb and a 7-3 advantage.

Waynflete/NYA junior Cal Nice crushes a home run, then is congratulated at home plate by teammate Tanner Anctil.

“I was just hungry,” Nice said. “They walked Tanner and that got me a little mad. I was just looking for my pitch. I saw a couple in the dirt, then I saw one I liked and took it the other way. I knew it was gone. It felt really good.”

“Cal has worked so hard over the last year,” Grazia said. “He was in a platoon last year and had ups and downs. This year, his hard work has had him able to succeed in situations like that. He’s worked so hard driving the ball the other way.”

After Cooper St. Hilaire flew out deep to left, Byrne grounded out back to the mound, but the damage was done.


Lambert started the top of the fifth by walking Ash Rollins and that was it for his outing.

On came Cooper St. Hilaire, who got Wilcox to fly to center, but with Bear Rollins at the plate, Ash Rollins stole second, then Bear Rollins beat out an infield single in front of the plate to put runners at the corners. Grey was next and he flew out to center, but on the play, Ash Rollins came home with a run. Plouffe then bounced out to third on a bang-bang play to keep the score 7-4.

In the bottom half, Waynflete/NYA again answered, as Kullman reached on an error by Wilcox at third, moved to second on a passed ball, took third on a sacrifice bunt from Smith, then scored when Violette hit an RBI single to left. Violette was thrown out trying to steal and Twinning struck out looking for the third out.

The Roadrunners made one final push in the top of the sixth, but would ultimately leave the tying runs on.

Mitchell led off with a single to center, but Anctil made a nice running, sliding catch on a blooper off the bat of Longley for the first out.

“Tanner is a superb defensive outfielder,” said Grazia. “His range and his throwing arm and the reads he gets on the ball are unreal. That takes a load off our corner outfielders. Lincoln and Cayden are good outfielders, but they don’t have as much range. Our outfield is exponentially better when you have Tanner covering the middle two-thirds.”


After Cooper St. Hilaire was called for a balk, moving Mitchell to second, Killian Pillsbury lined out to left, but Kaden Pillsbury followed with a single through the hole between short and third to score the run and he took second on the throw home. After Ash Rollins’ pop-up in right-center was dropped, Pillsbury scored as well. Wilcox then singled to left and Rollins and Wilcox pulled off a double steal, putting the tying run in scoring position, but on his final pitch of the afternoon, St. Hilaire blew strike three past Bear Rollins to keep the score 8-6.

In the bottom half, Waynflete/NYA got an insurance run against Kaden Pillsbury, who came on in relief.

Daxton St. Hilaire was hit by a pitch leading off and promptly stole second. Anctil then laid down a bunt and beat it out to put runners at first and third. Nice took strike three, but after Anctil moved up on an errant pickoff attempt, Cooper St. Hilaire hit a fly ball to center that was deep enough to score Anctil. Byrne walked on a 3-2 pitch before Kullman struck out looking, but Waynflete/NYA had a three-run lead to take to the seventh.

Where Daxton St. Hilaire came on to slam the door.

St. Hilaire walked Grey on a 3-2 pitch leading off, but he got Plouffe to ground into a short-to-second force out and when Grey didn’t slide, he was called out for interference. That left the game up to Mitchell, who fell behind in the count 0-2, took a couple balls, then hit a St. Hilaire offering hard, but it was directly at Violette in left, who snared it, and Waynflete/NYA was able to celebrate its 9-6 victory.

“It means a lot,” said Nice. “We’ve been a good team for a few years now and we haven’t been able to get past this round. We’re really strong this year and we have a really good team with a lot of chemistry. We’re very confident in what we can do. I was confident the whole time. We had a couple missed balls, but I believe in our pitchers and fielders and I knew our bats would get it done.”


“This group comes out and fights every game and it took a team effort,” said Anctil. “It was a good team win today.”

“We have such a wonderful group of student-athletes and coaches and administrators who have helped put this together,” Grazia added. “Without the cooperation of both schools, it wouldn’t be possible. The kids have really bought into what we’re doing. We’re pretty even with players from both schools. They might compete against each other fiercely in other sports, but they come here and we’re one team.”

Waynflete/NYA’s 10-hit attack was paced by three apiece from Anctil and Nice.

Anctil scored three runs, while Nice and Daxton St. Hilaire touched home twice and Kellman and Cooper St. Hilaire scored once.

Nice finished with four RBI, while Anctil, Byrne, Kullman and Cooper St. Hilaire all drove in one.

The squad left six men on base.


Lambert earned the victory, allowing four runs (two earned) on just one hit and seven walks in four-plus innings.

Cooper St. Hilaire surrendered two runs (one earned) in two innings of relief, walking one and fanning one.

Daxton St. Hilaire earned the save with a scoreless, hitless top of the seventh.

“Pitching is something we’ve tried to create a lot of depth,” Grazia said. “We try to use a lot of different pitchers because we play a lot of games with rainouts and need different arms. Today, all three pitchers competed and threw strikes and put the ball in play. Giving our fielders an opportunity to play the ball is our recipe for success.”

For Mt. Abram, Mitchell scored twice, while Pillsbury, Plouffe, Bear Rollins and Wilcox all came home once.

Grey, Pillsbury and Plouffe had RBI.


The Roadrunners left seven runners on base.

Dube took the loss, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits in three innings. He walked one.

Mitchell surrendered four earned runs on three hits in two innings, walking one and striking out a batter.

Pillsbury pitched the final inning, giving up an earned run on one hit, walking one and striking out a pair.

Uncharted territory

Waynflete/NYA has its hands full Saturday against a Sacopee Valley squad which beat it twice via the mercy rule this spring, 12-1 (in six-innings) in Portland and 10-0 (in five-innings) on the road, but the squad is up for the challenge.

“I think we just need to come in with the same mindset as today,” Anctil said. “Go in hungry, ready to fight and work as a team to get it done.”

“We’ve got to swing the bats,” said Nice. “Not having many hits has been our Achilles’ heel in those two losses. I think we’ll be ready to go. They beat us twice pretty bad, so we want this one.”

“We just have to erase the first two games from our minds,” Grazia added. “If we play our game and hit like we’re capable of, we have the ability to hang with them and then we’ll just have to grind it out like we’ve been doing all year.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net.

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