Kobe Rogerson of Brewer tags out Ellsworth's Bradly Smith, who was trying to steal second base, during the Class B North title game at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor June 13. Rogerson is now playing American Legion baseball for the Coffee News Comrades of Bangor, who play their Zone 1 playoff opener Saturday night. Credit: Pete Warner

Kobe Rogerson began his senior spring at Brewer High School aware of the following facts related to his immediate baseball future:

— He would be the elder statesman of the high school team, the only returning starter to a program now in Class B for the first time after a long tradition in Class A.

— After high school play, he’d rejoin the Brewer Falcons American Legion team this summer to prepare for college baseball next year at Husson University in Bangor, where he plans to study sports management with an eye toward becoming an athletic director.

Some four months later things may not have gone entirely according to plan for Rogerson, but few can argue with the results.

His high school team overcame any feeling of uncertainty as a less experienced squad playing in a new division in stunning fashion by capturing Brewer’s first state championship in baseball.

And when Brewer was unable to field its Legion team this summer, Rogerson and five other former Falcons joined Bangor’s Coffee News Comrades, which just completed an undefeated regular season and is set to begin play Saturday in the Zone 1 tournament at Husson.

Top-ranked Coffee News (16-0) is scheduled to face the winner of Friday’s play-in game between the No. 4 Acadians and No. 5 Post 51/16 of Oakland at 7 p.m.

“It’s kind of bittersweet that we couldn’t play with the Falcons, but we got a great opportunity to play over in Bangor,” Rogerson said. “We’ve known the Bangor guys for a while. We’ve played against them since Little League, and now we’re coming together, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Joining a Bangor program with three American Legion state championships in the past four years thanks to players from a Bangor High program with a state-record streak five consecutive Class A state titles normally would seem a formidable challenge.

But with Rogerson’s leadership and Brewer now having a state championship legacy of its own, the transition has been smooth.

“What I’m most proud of is how all of the players have a mutual respect for each other and a great deal of maturity at their age to go with all the intangibles from having the success they’ve had,” Bangor High and Coffee News head coach Dave Morris said.

That may be especially true for Rogerson, whose highly productive presence at the top of the order and in the middle of the infield proved invaluable as Brewer High coach Dana Corey guided his Witches to the state crown, capped off by a 3-2 walk-off victory over Wells in the championship game played on Bangor High School’s home field, Mansfield Stadium.

“Our coaches have been around quite a while and seen a lot of things, and just to be the first team to do it, it’s crazy,” Rogerson said. “After the game I thought, ‘Think how many players have gone through Brewer High School, and this group of guys is the only one that’s won a state championship in baseball.’ It was insane.”

The Witches’ shortstop struck out just twice all spring while batting .397 with 24 runs scored, 10 stolen bases in as many attempts, and stellar defense as evidenced by the fifth inning of the state final when he accounted for all three outs, two with running catches on bloopers to the outfield and the third with a bare-handed play on a slow roller to short.

“He’s got a really good sense about him fundamentally, of anticipating where the ball’s going to go, and he lays himself out for some big plays,” Morris said. “And there’s not many times you’ll see him miss the routine play. Sometimes you can be a very good shortstop and the toughest play is the routine play, but with Kobe he makes the routine play look routine.”

Rogerson, who also earned the pitching win in relief at the state final, is among many Comrades who have used their versatility to maximize their playing time during the American Legion season on a deep roster loaded with state championship-caliber experience.

He’s played second base, shortstop, third base and even a game in the outfield during the regular season, though Rogerson is likely to team with recently graduated Bangor High shortstop Zach Ireland as the heart of Coffee News’ middle-infield defense during postseason play.

“It’s a lot of fun playing with Zach up the middle, he’s such a good player,” Rogerson said. “But I’m set for anywhere. I’m just ready to go.”

And while Rogerson has played dozens of games at different levels against the majority of the Coffee News players over the years, this summer’s first-hand view of the Comrades not only has been successful to date, but also informative.

“The one thing I’ve noticed is that when you get down in a game against them you know there’s going to be a fight back somewhere in that game,” he said. “They always have that late-game fight and you have to be ready for it.

“It’s a tough group of kids over there, and we’re a tough group, too, but we’re having a lot of fun.”

Rogerson and his teammates hope to parlay that toughness and fun into yet another state championship come early August.

Morris has little doubt that Rogerson will play a key role toward that end.

“Coaching against him, obviously we didn’t want him to beat us and a couple of times he did,” the Coffee News coach said. “Everything you see from the stands or the dugout or from the opposing side of the field, and now being in the same dugout with him, you see that he’s the real deal.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...