HAMPDEN, Maine — The Bangor Comrades showed off their complete baseball package during a 6-2 American Legion Zone 1 victory over Hampden at Bordick Park on Tuesday evening.
Ian Edwards hit a pair of two-run homers and Shane Walton added a third two-run shot to account for Bangor’s offense.
Righthander Jordan Clarke shook off a slow start to scatter three hits over six innings to help Bangor (4-1) earn its fourth straight win.
Most impressive of all, coach Fred Lower’s club used defense as a weapon — with three diving catches in the outfield, a perfect relay play to cut down a runner trying for extra bases, and a game-ending double play featuring the diving catch of a line drive by shortstop Cody McInnis.
“They made great plays, they took hits away from us and they did it with the sticks,” said Hampden coach Jason Folsom. “Those three big shots killed us.”
Edwards touched up Hampden lefthander Brennan Perry for a one-out home run to left in the top of the first to stake Bangor to a 2-0 lead, then capped off the scoring with his second homer of the night to right field in the seventh.
Walton’s homer came after an Edwards walk to open the Bangor sixth.
“When you have a guy like Brennan Perry on the mound you know you’re going to face some of the best stuff in the league,” said Edwards. “We just tried to stay aggressive at the plate and really just sat on the fastball because he’s got a great curveball and we wanted to stay away from that as much as we could.”
Clarke, pitching for the first time since June 11, yielded a run without giving up a hit in the second, as Josh Tardiff was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on two wild pitches.
Hampden (5-2) tied the game an inning later when Cody Johndro drew a one-out walk, advanced on a groundout by Shawn Smith and scored on a double to left-center by Tardiff.
But Clarke issued only one walk over the final four innings, and when the Riverdogs mounted any subsequent threats Bangor’s defense came to the rescue.
“I settled in,” said Clarke, who struck out five and walked four before giving way to Edwards in the seventh. “I wasn’t consistent for the whole game, but I started throwing strikes and the defense played well behind me.”
Derek Amoroso drew a one-out walk for Hampden in the fourth and went to second on a throwing error — the only miscue by either team.
But Amoroso only could advance to third when Edwards ranged to deep right-center to rob Jordan Richards of extra bases with a diving catch.
“The play before that I was late backing up first base, so I was late getting out to right field and I was playing way too shallow,” said Edwards. “I said that right before the pitch, and sure enough he smokes it into the gap so I didn’t think I had a play on it. But [center fielder] Lonnie [Hackett] helped me, he kept yelling ‘back, back, back’ and luckily I got to it in time.”
Perry then went the opposite way with a fly ball, and this time Bangor left fielder Kyle Savage made a diving catch to rob Hampden not only of another hit, but the go-ahead run.
Walton extended Bangor’s lead to 4-2 with a liner over the left-field fence in the sixth, but Hampden’s Alex Cust tried to counter with a drive toward the gap in left-center with one out in the bottom of the inning.
Bangor’s Nate Lewis cut the ball off before it could get through, then threw the ball in to McInnis in medium left field. McInnis turned and fired a strike to second baseman Chad Kelley to cut down Cust trying to stretch the hit into a double.
“Nate did an amazing job of cutting the ball off, got it to me, and I just had to get it to Chad and he made an incredible tag,” said McInnis.