BANGOR — Bucksport High school captured its first-ever Class C baseball state title on Saturday, defeating the Lisbon Greyhounds 1-0 at Mansfield Stadium. After falling short in the regional semifinals last year, the Golden Bucks responded with a dominant season under first-year head coach Josh Jackson, bulldozing their way to the state finals.
Led by seniors Ty Giberson and Jake Guty, the team battled all afternoon to keep a potent Lisbon lineup from breaking the game wide open. Giberson, the team’s ace, struck out the first batter he faced but then walked the bases loaded in the top of the first.
A second strikeout and a grounder to third helped Bucksport escape without giving up a run, but the Greyhounds came right back the next inning, putting runners on second and third with one out. After Giberson got the second out on a pop-up back to the mound, the decision was made to intentionally walk the dangerous Hunter Brissette and load the bases.
It seemed like that decision was going to backfire after Giberson fell behind 3-0 to the next batter and the dam seemed poised to burst. But somewhere, somehow, a switch was flipped. Giberson fought back to get a huge strikeout and end yet another scoring threat by the Greyhounds. That one clutch hit never came for Lisbon. The dam never broke. The Greyhounds wound up stranding 11 runners on base when all was said and done, a staggering amount.
Despite Giberson’s early struggles, coach Jackson said after the game that he had complete confidence in the senior.
“When he came off that mound in the second inning there was no doubt that he was going to take us all the way,” Jackson said.
In addition to his gutsy performance on the mound, Giberson drove in the winning run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Bucks had struggled so far to get anything going against Brissette, who had surrendered one hit and struck out four through three innings.
Facing the heart of the Bucksport order in the fourth, Brisette popped up first baseman Gavin Holyoke for the first out, but then gave up a single to star senior Jake Guty. Guty then stole second base, putting himself in scoring position. And just like that Giberson did what Lisbon’s entire lineup failed to do and roped a clutch single into left field, bringing home Guty and giving Bucksport a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.
“Jake [Guty], Ty [Giberson] and Tyler Hallet have been incredible leaders for us all year,” coach Jackson said of his three senior captains. “They’ve been right there with our underclassmen teaching them, leading them, and helping them get better.”
It wasn’t exactly all smooth sailing for Bucksport from that point, though. After putting runners on first and second with one out in the top of the seventh, Giberson reached his limit of 110 pitches in the game, a consequence of his early struggles and extended innings. Coach Jackson was forced to make a change at the mound, and he turned to another senior, Cam Rich, who had been the team’s designated hitter up to that point.
Rich, who had been hit on his pitching hand during an earlier at-bat, showed no signs of struggle. He took the mound and confidently secured the final two outs, ending the game with a strikeout.
The team celebrated its victory by charging the mound and piling on top of Rich before the official trophy presentation. And it was Giberson who eventually hoisted the Golden Glove, showing it off for the fans who had traveled in force to Bangor for the game.
“Our community, our fan base, has just been so supportive all year,” Jackson said. “Having them turn Mansfield into another Bucksport home game was really something special.”
Bucksport finished the year a perfect 22-0 in regional play. The Golden Bucks’ only losses on the year came in one-run games against Ellsworth and Bangor, which are Class B and Class A teams, respectively.
While the Golden Bucks will be losing a core group of seniors next year, Jackson hopes the experience gained by the underclassmen this season will help the team repeat as champions next spring.
This story has been updated.