BANGOR, Maine — When Trevor DeLaite talks about how much he hates losing a baseball game, his facial expression changes from a smile reflecting his passion for the sport to a grimace of pure determination.
It’s an expression undeniably backed by statistics.
Since the senior pitcher-first baseman joined the Bangor High School program in 2013, he has compiled a 15-1 record. The lone defeat came as a freshman when he yielded two hits in a 2-1 loss to Brewer.
The 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander has helped coach Jeff Fahey’s club compile a 48-9 record during the last three years, highlighted by back-to-back Class A state championships in 2014 and 2015.
Those numbers alone make DeLaite, who committed to the University of Maine after his freshman year at Bangor, a top preseason candidate for this year’s Dr. John W. Winkin Award, presented to the state’s Mr. Baseball.
But it doesn’t stop there.
DeLaite is 21-1 in three summers pitching for the city’s Coffee News Comrades American Legion baseball team, which also is the two-time defending state champion. He was the state’s Zone 1 pitcher of the year in 2014 and its player of the year last summer after going 9-0 on the mound and batting .455.
DeLaite also has starred for two Bangor Senior League World Series teams, including the 2014 squad that went undefeated in pool play to reach the semifinals.
“He’s very competitive,” Fahey said, “and he’s really dedicated himself to becoming better. From the time he was a freshman, or even before that, he had a goal of attending the University of Maine so he worked during the offseason religiously and it’s paid off for him. He’s regimented in his workouts, he takes care of himself. He’s a really determined kid.”
DeLaite lived in Lincoln with his parents and older brother Devin until the family moved to Bangor in 2011.
By that time the son of David and Lisa DeLaite already was thriving in both hockey — he was a finalist for this year’s Travis Roy Award as the state’s top Class A senior high school player — and baseball.
Through summer camps at the UMaine, he came to know former Black Bears assistant baseball coach Jason Spaulding, whom DeLaite credits for helping to develop his pitching mechanics.
“When I was younger I’d get a sore arm just about every time I pitched, I was just chucking it,” he said. “I was young and I wasn’t very strong. But as I learned how to throw it got better, and now I can’t remember the last time I had a sore arm.
“I worked with Jason during middle school and he really taught me the right way to do things at a young age.”
DeLaite and shortstop Kyle Stevenson were the first freshmen to make Bangor’s varsity baseball roster in at least a decade when Fahey selected his 2013 squad. DeLaite immediately made an impact as the No. 3 starter behind veterans Curtis Worcester and Justin Courtney, the latter now the sophomore ace at UMaine.
“I think he realized that if he wanted to be as successful as they were that he’d have to learn to pitch and not just throw,” Fahey said. “I think that’s helped save his arm, but it’s also made him much more crafty, and being left-handed helps.”
DeLaite hasn’t lost a high school game since that debut season, going 5-0 with a 1.60 earned run average in 2014 and 8-0 with a 0.69 ERA in 51 innings last spring.
“I just go after every hitter and make them prove to me that they can hit my fastball,” DeLaite said. “As soon as they can do that, I’ll go after them a different way. I think of it as wanting to make them look as dumb as possible, not in a cocky way, but I’m going to go out there and compete with you to the best of my ability.”
Location has been just as important to DeLaite’s high school success as velocity. He’s walked only 26 batters while striking out 155 in 105⅓ innings over three years.
“I’ve always had good control, I’ve always had a good feel for the ball,” DeLaite said. “The biggest thing is I don’t try to overthrow, I don’t try to blow it past them. My approach is I’ll probably be more successful hitting a spot than throwing it a couple miles an hour faster.”
DeLaite has been controlled in his continuing pursuit of knowledge about the game.
“When it comes to pitching he has absorbed a lot of what, in particular, [Bangor HS pitching coach and Legion head coach] Dave Morris has shared with him,” Fahey said, “as well as [former assistant coach] Chris Morris, who was here when he started and also is a student of pitching.
“And, of course, he’s also better than average as far as his stuff, and that helps.”
DeLaite hopes to feature a five-pitch repertoire this spring after adding a slider late in the 2015 high school season. He eyes precise location of his two- and four-seam fastballs, curve, slider and changeup.
He continues to find new ways to learn about his craft and his physical conditioning.
“This year I’ve been doing more with video,” he said. “I watch a lot of video or look on YouTube at different guys, just trying to learn as much as I can about throwing and the easiest way to take the strain off my arm.
“Last year, I felt probably the best I’ve felt ever because I felt so in sync and so smooth.”
That contemplative approach to pitching was among many aspects of DeLaite’s game that drew the early interest of UMaine baseball coach Steve Trimper.
“As a young guy what intrigued me about Trevor was he was a very athletic kid who was aware of his body all the time,” Trimper said. “He knows what his mechanics are in hockey, he knows what his mechanics are in baseball, and I think Trevor could pick a basketball up and be a good basketball player.
DeLaite’s familiarity with UMaine through Spaulding and attending summer baseball camps evolved into a desire to become part of that program. When the offer of a partial scholarship came in June 2013 the decision was easy.
“I knew I’d have a lot of support and I was comfortable with the coaching staff,” DeLaite said, “and it was good to get everything out of the way so I wouldn’t get to my junior and senior seasons thinking that now I had to have a good season to hopefully go somewhere.”
DeLaite’s pitching arsenal has increased markedly since that signing date, as has his velocity. The 78 miles per hour fastball he brought to high school now is in the mid-80s.
“I have confidence in my ability to throw the ball where I want,” he said. “Hopefully going up there next year I’ll get a lot stronger and a lot bigger. I know I can get a lot stronger.”
Trimper sees similar opportunities for growth.
“His makeup is unbelieveable and his baseball IQ is unbelievable, off the charts,” he said. “I just think he’s got a really high ceiling.”
DeLaite has high hopes for baseball beyond high school.
“My dream is to get drafted,” he said, “so I want to go up there and have the best four years I possibly can and help the team win and hopefully get back to conference championships and the NCAAs.”
But DeLaite’s championship ambitions are focused on Bangor’s bid for a third consecutive state title.
“Hopefully, I can help lead the team back there and we can prove to the state that we are the best team,” he said. “I just try to compete with everyone because I hate to lose more than anything.”