Spirited rivalry resumes on the diamond

Wiscasset hosts Boothbay Region in ‘Spirit Day’ game
Wed, 05/25/2022 - 9:00am

Middle school baseball is on the upswing in Midcoast Maine. This spring, Boothbay Region Elementary School returns for its second consecutive season after posting a 9-1 record in 2021. And Wiscasset returns to the Bus Line League after four years without a middle school program. On Saturday, May 7, Wiscasset seventh grader Landin Shivey fired the first pitch against Boothbay in what first-year Wolverine coach Phil Di Vece called “Spirit Day.”

Di Vece wanted to celebrate a link Boothbay and Wiscasset have in spring sports. Wiscasset high school  boys are playing on Boothbay’s baseball team, and Boothbay girls are playing on Wiscasset’s high school softball team. “It’s the first time Boothbay and Wiscasset (middle schools) have played in four years. So I thought we’d call today ‘Spirit Day’ because we’re playing our sister school who we share varsity programs (with),” Di Vece said. So the host Wolverines served coffee, donuts and other snacks during the middle school baseball game in celebration of the renewed rivalry.

Boothbay won 15-2, but Di Vece’s squad achieved a milestone by even playing the game. Wiscasset has battled low enrollment numbers in recent years which made fielding either a middle or high school team hard. Di Vece credits a core group of athletes for Wiscasset’s return to baseball. “It’s a special group of great kids,” he said. “I had the same group for soccer and basketball. So when March rolled around, we put up a sign-up sheet and had enough kids for a team.”

Di Vece has earned the nickname “Yogi Berra Di Vece” through his efforts in coaching all three middle school sports this year. His baseball team is young and inexperienced. The Wolverine roster has only two eighth graders, Peter Rego and Noah Ruzyckis,  but this is the first year either has played organized baseball. 

So what are the two rookies looking forward to most in their first season? “Winning!” both said. The team’s most common defensive alignment is starting pitcher, Landin Shivey; catcher, Julian King; first base; Ruzyckis, second base, Paul Lambert; third base, Kiernan Atwood; shortstop, Rego; and outfielders, Kyle Manks, Travis Bender and Teegan Marr. Wiscasset’s substitutes include Liam Moore and Evan Puterbaugh. Di Vece believes Wiscasset is in the early stages of re-building its program. He reported after several years without a Babe Ruth program, there are plans for one this summer. “It’s definitely a challenge, but there is a desire to play baseball in Wiscasset which is encouraging,” he said.

This spring, Di Vece has been impressed with one player’s leadership ability. “Julian King is our catcher. He has character as a high honors student. He is a leader in getting to practice early. He is also the first to clean up afterwards. His teammates all look up to him,” Di Vece said. So far, Wiscasset is 0-5 in league play. The 12-member roster has mostly sixth and seventh graders with no previous organized baseball experience.  But Di Vece reports his team is winning in other ways. “We’re out here having fun playing ball in the sun. It’s really a great experience for these young athletes to learn how to play,” he said. 

Against Boothbay Region, Wiscasset faced a tough challenge in Wildcat hurler Owen Cotta who coach Dennis Dacus described as one of the top two pitchers in the Bus Line league and his team’s top hitter. “He has a very good fastball and uses his off-speed pitches effectively,” Dacus said. “He is fundamentally sound and knows the game better than most kids at his age.” Cotta and his teammates have also benefited from playing a couple years of Cal Ripen Baseball. “The feeder program is doing a great job. Kids are playing baseball all summer long, and it’s really starting to show,” Dacus said. 

Boothbay’s defensive alignment for most early season games is Cotta, pitching; Casey Phelps, catcher; Trey Tibbets or Harrison Hinckley, first base; Lessie White or Maddie Andreason, second base; Sean Gamage or Cotta, shortstop; Aiden Locke, third base; and outfield, David Frazel, Cale Rogers, Sophie White, Izzy Andreason and Spencer Woods.  

Boothbay has a 3-2 record.