GORHAM — At noon Tuesday, Jamie Stacey had a gut feeling to go with James Ritter on the mound for the Class C South baseball championship.

That decision worked for Stacey, Ritter and No. 2 Sacopee Valley, which beat No. 1 Monmouth Academy 6-1 for the regional title at Ed Flaherty Field.

The Hawks (15-4) are back in the Class C final for the first time since 2016 when they beat George Stevens Academy 3-2. The win was sweet revenge for Sacopee Valley, which fell 1-0 to the Mustangs in the C South final last year. Monmouth went on to win the state title.

“It was pretty big (to win), especially with pressure coming in from last year to reach states,” Ritter said. “It felt really good to get some payback this year.”

Ritter held the Mustangs to a season-low one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings of work, striking out four and walking four. The senior used an array of offspeed pitches to keep hitters at bay.

“We just couldn’t decide (on who to start) until about noontime on my starting pitcher,” said Stacey, Sacopee Valley’s head coach. “(Dylan) Capano has kind of been my ace all year. My first instinct was to go with Capano. Then, at noontime, I just had a gut instinct. Ritter entered my mind, and I went, ‘I’m going with Ritter.’ He has a better breaking ball and will keep (Monmouth) off balance.”


“I just throw strikes, I’m pretty confident with the defense behind me,” Ritter said. “I couldn’t have any other defense behind me, it’s just a great feeling on the mound. It just gives you confidence and lets you do your thing.”

Ritter was backed by a strong Sacopee Valley lineup. Brady Metcalf went 2 for 4 at the plate, including a double, and had two RBIs. Shortstop Caleb Vacchiano had two hits, including a double and third baseman and leadoff hitter Keegan Thibodeau scored three runs.

Rory Foyt had a double and a single for the Mustangs.

“It seemed to be one of those nights,” Monmouth head coach Eric Palleschi said. “We just didn’t execute like we had all year. (Ritter) did a good job. We hit a lot of ground balls, but we hit a lot of ground balls at people. (Sacopee Valley’s) hitters did a good job of swinging early. They set the tone and they rode with it.”

The biggest inning for the Hawks came in the third, highlighted by an RBI double from Brady Metcalf, giving Sacopee Valley a 4-0 lead. He helped lengthen the lead to 5-0 in the fourth, plating Thibodeau with an RBI single.


“I think (the early offense) was really huge for us,” Brady Metcalf said. “It shut Monmouth down, right off the rip. We could see their energy change.”

The Hawks added one more run in the seventh on a double-steal. Sacopee Valley center fielder Bradley Metcalf, running from third, made an acrobatic spin around Monmouth catcher Noah Schultz, tagging the plate for the 6-0 lead.

“We’re playing our best ball at the right time,” Stacey said. “Coming into the playoffs, they’ve just taken their focus and energy to the next level.”

The Mustangs scored their lone run in the seventh inning, as Richard Johnson scored on a Kyle Palleschi RBI groundout. Palleschi took the loss on the mound for Monmouth, striking out seven batters in six innings of work.

The Mustangs graduate a strong senior class, many of whom have won state titles in baseball, basketball and soccer during their high school career.

“It’s not how this group wanted to go, but they need to take time and look at what they’ve done,” Eric Palleschi said. “It’s a testament to the work they put in, and we hope the younger guys pick up on that.”

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