LOCAL STORY: Belfast’s Baseball Duo Continues Storybook Legacy
Four years ago, in the spring of 2012, a pair of incoming freshman baseball players at Belfast Area High School played their first baseball season together for Coach George Ross while on the town’s Babe Ruth team. Emery Dinsmore and Lucien Gordley-Smith weren’t the stars of that team, but their early success in that summer set up what would become a successful four years on Waldo Avenue.
Since then, the two have played one season of JV baseball together, in which Gordley-Smith was eventually called up to varsity, as well as a final season of Babe Ruth, three years of varsity, and two seasons on the now defunct Waldo County American Legion team. Needless to say, the two have had a plethora of experience playing alongside each other. Many times, Dinsmore and Gordley-Smith ended up being the top two starting pitchers on the respective teams.
[Emery]’s a great motivator,” Gordley-Smith says. “He keeps the mood up even when we are struggling. It’s been a pleasure to play alongside him.”
And when given his own chance to reflect on their friendship on and off the field, Dinsmore says, “[Lucien] is one of the best hitters I’ve seen play, and without this team I would have never gotten the chance to become such good friends with him.”
As the years went by, their success grew. In the summer 2013, the duo contributed heavily to Swan Lake Grocery’s 8-4 record. The following year on Belfast High’s varsity team, Dinsmore was 6-1 with a 0.94 ERA and 50 K’s in 46 innings. The only blemish came in a 2-1 loss to the eventual conference champions. Due to his success, he was subsequently a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference (KVAC) 1st Team Pitcher. Meanwhile, Gordley-Smith was awarded as the team’s Rollie’s Rookie of the Year for his outstanding batting average and stellar performance on the mound during an upset over Oceanside.
Despite their success as sophomores, the pair was not recognized in preseason predictions prior to their junior season in 2015. Instead, they continued to fly under the radar while the team prepared for a deep playoff run in Eastern Class B. Though led by seniors Matt Smith, now pitching for Husson University, and Drew Stanley, the pair still front lined the Lions batting order during their 11-5 season and an eventual KVAC Championship berth. However, the season ended in an early playoff exit at the hands of rival Camden Hills, in which Dinsmore gave up a rare 2-run home run and Gordley-Smith was doubled-up at first base to end the game after a seventh-inning rally.
Though even with the unfortunate end to a great season, Emery Dinsmore was once again an all-conference pitcher; this time with a 6-2 record, with a 1.40 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 60 innings. Equally as impressive was Lucien Gordley-Smith’s .436 batting average, 24 base hits, and zero errors in the field. Those numbers undoubtedly put Lucien as the unanimous KVAC Player of the Year, much to the chagrin of local adversaries. But Belfast’s historic under season under Coach of the Year George Ross was all but forgotten by local media heading into this spring. The Portland Press Herald’s Top 25 Players to Watch list did not include either Lion superstar, despite their past success. Additionally, little hype was given on Maine sports blogging sites and regional newspapers. A similar pattern began to develop regarding the team in general. The previous year’s conference runner-up was not given much respect before the season.
“The lack of ‘hype’ is not what baseball is about for me and many members of our team,” the lefty ace says. “The pure enjoyment of the game makes it all worth it.”
It really speaks to the camaraderie that the guys have, and that I experienced myself, especially when you add in the humor and personalities of guys like first basemen Alex Canning, shortstop Garrett Hamlin, outfielder Peter Spectre, and third basemen Zach Dyer. Not to mention the incredible baseball IQ of fellow captain Alex Flagg. There is no question that the team has benefited from the core group of players built alongside Gordley-Smith and Dinsmore.
But if anything defines baseball in Belfast, it is exactly what Dinsmore said. And to no one’s surprise, the pair have done just that for their fellow Lions in 2016.
This season, Dinsmore has allowed three earned runs in seven starts and eight appearances on the mound. Ever since his sophomore year, he has thrown multiple one-hitters including outings against Morse and Medomak Valley on varsity and against Penquis of Dover-Foxcroft and Motor City of Bangor in American Legion. This year, the trend is continuing, with the senior hurler outlasting Leavitt, Lincoln Academy, and Nokomis, in similar appearances. During his start against the Lincoln Academy on April 25th, he had a career high twelve strikeouts in an 8-0 win. And just when no one thought he could top that, the lefty fanned fifteen batters against Nokomis on May 9th. Even following a rough start in Waterville on Friday night, Dinsmore’s complied stats are actually comparable to some of the state’s top pitchers.
Through nearly three years on the Lion’s varsity squad, Dinsmore is 18-4 in 23 starts with 166 strikeouts in 151 innings and an earned run average of 0.92. It is ironic when your “down year” still has you with an ERA under two.
Although it was tough for Gordley-Smith to top his 2015 numbers, he continued to produce at the plate in many of Belfast’s large victory margins. And in the games that Dinsmore does not pitch, he has gotten his opportunities to improve his velocity on the mound – despite a nagging back injury. Last week against Spruce Mountain, Gordley-Smith picked up the win during an 11-4 rout of the Phoenix in which he also added a pair of hits and RBI’s.
“Last season I saw the ball very well at the plate, and it’s carried over into this season,” he adds. “Our whole team is locked in at the plate this year.”
However, the past is the past; and for the Lions, they are in desperate need of a successful ending to the season. Since starting out 6-2 with losses only to Erskine Academy and Oceanside, Belfast has lost three out of their last five games, all of which on the road to KVAC opponents Maranacook, Gardiner, and Waterville. At this point, their record holds at 8-5 and they stand in ninth place in the Northern Class B Standings.
Though one could argue that their fate is actually in their own hands from now on out. Wednesday, the Lions travel to local foe and basement team Mount View, in which a momentum win would suffice over what would be a minimal Heal Point gain. But Friday, Belfast hosts arch rival Oceanside at 4 pm, in what many expect to be a likely duel between the Mariners’ Nick Mazurek and Dinsmore.
“Nick’s a great competitor, and a great athlete,” says Dinsmore. “Playing against him has been fun for the last five or six seasons. It’s nice to contribute to the Rockland/Belfast rivalry that has lived on for so many years. We’ll see him Friday.”
But after that the Lions will host Winslow in a game with serious playoff and heal point implications. The Mariners are currently in fourth place regionally while the Black Raiders of Winslow sit atop the standings. Thankfully for the Lions, both games are in Belfast – as the team has not lost at home all season long – partly due to the success of Dinsmore and Gordley-Smith while playing in front of their home crowd.
When it comes to performing in big games, the two are beyond prepared for the challenge – whether it is the positives like Gordley-Smith’s gem against Oceanside in 2014 or Dinsmore’s unfortunate pair of losses to Camden Hills in 2014 and 2015. But as stated before, the past is the past. In order for the two seniors to culminate their outstanding legacy in Belfast, they’ll need to rally their team for the challenge that lies ahead.
“I think that we have what it takes to go all the way,” Gordley-Smith says. “If we keep our heads in the game and begin to believe in what we can do.”
Baseball is an unpredictable as it gets, and nothing can be taken for granted. As Dinsmore prepares to pitch for Colby College next year and with Gordley-Smith’s baseball future still uncertain, the hour glass is waning on what has been a memorable tenure by the Bay. And with two big games and the playoffs ahead, something tells me that the legend is far from over.
This story was initially submitted to the Bangor Daily News, but has been delayed since early submission. Thus, Baseball Hot Corner continues to strive toward supplying a variety of baseball-related news at all levels.