By Mike Zhe
Four months ago, Casey Aubin, Zack Quintal and a few more of the area’s standout high school baseball players gathered as a group of USA Mavericks at USA Training Centers in Newington for a formal ceremony to sign their National Letters of Intent.There was little doubt that day that this year’s class of players on the Seacoast was a special one. There’s even less doubt now.
For the second time in four years, the winners of the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year awards for New Hampshire and Maine both reside locally and all were or are members of the USA Maverick Baseball club program. Aubin, a senior at Oyster River, and Quintal, a senior at Marshwood, both received the honor as the top player in their respective states on Thursday.
“Going into this season, seeing how many local seniors are going to play college baseball and then seeing the level they’re going to play at … it speaks for itself, the progression and the talent level on the Seacoast, for sure,” said Marshwood coach Bryant Lausberg.
Both players will attend Division I colleges next year on partial baseball scholarships — Aubin at UMass and Quintal at Maine.
In 2012, Former Mavericks, Jordan Bean of St. Thomas Aquinas (New Hampshire) and Luke Fernandes of Marshwood (Maine) were named state Gatorade winners. Former Maverick, Mike Montville of Portsmouth High School was the New Hampshire winner in 2009 and ’10.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Aubin has had a superb season for Oyster River (11-5), which is on track to host a first-round game in the Division II tournament, which begins next week. The right-handed pitcher/infielder owned a 6-0 record with a 0.65 ERA before getting beaten by Portsmouth, 2-1, in extra innings last week. At the time of his selection he had struck out 63 batters and walked just four in 43 innings of work. He was also batting .441 with 12 RBIs. “He’s another year older,” said Oyster River coach Craig Walfield. “It’s another year with more confidence. His confidence is through the roof right now.”
Aubin, the first Gatorade winner from the Oyster River baseball program, has maintained a 3.58 GPA in the classroom. Also an ice hockey standout, he has volunteered locally on behalf of youth baseball programs. “We knew Aubin was very good and he proved it,” said Adam Lawrence, head coach at defending Division II champion Goffstown, which Aubin beat 4-3 on April 27. “He’s very efficient on the mound and he pounds the strike zone. He’s always around the plate, which keeps their defense ready too.”
“It goes with experience, getting comfortable with pitches,” said Aubin. “Now I’m pounding the strike zone consistently and forcing them to hit it, as opposed to giving them free passes.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Quintal has led the Hawks to a 10-3 record with one week left in the regular season, good for fifth place in the Western Maine Class A Heal Points. At the time of his selection, the right-handed pitcher/third baseman owned a 4-1 record and a 0.75 ERA on the mound, along with a .414 batting average. “He’s a leader,” said Lausberg. “He leads by example. He’s one of those guys who has made my transition easy and positive. “He’s been lights-out on the mound. He’s one of those pitchers that throws a lot of strikes, gets a lot of ground balls and fly balls that keeps our defense engaged.”
As a sophomore and junior he helped the Hawks reach the regional championship game, losing both times. “He’s been a stud ever since we were little,” said his Marshwood teammate, Jake Lebel, before the season.
Quintal has maintained a B average in the classroom. A mentor for elementary school students, he has volunteered locally on behalf of youth sports programs. “(He) isn’t only a gifted baseball player, but he plays the game the right way,” said Brody Artes, the coach at Windham. “He always seems to find a way to get on base and put pressure on his opponents.”
Aubin and Quintal join an accomplished group of past state award winners, including big-league greats Derek Jeter (Michigan), Roy Halladay (Colorado), David Price (Tennessee), Chipper Jones (Florida), Derek Lee (California) and Jon Lester (Washington).