BANGOR — Central Aroostook High School baseball coach Brent York brought his players down early to Bangor for their Eastern Maine Class D championship game against Deer Isle-Stonington Wednesday so they could hit for an hour in the batting cages at Blackbeard’s on the Odlin Road in Bangor.
“But the pitches in the batting cage were a little faster than what we saw today. But once we got used to it and started sitting on [pitcher Evan Rollins’] curveball, everything fell into place,” said York.
The Panthers from Mars Hill parlayed four hits, two walks and an error into six second-inning runs en route to a 10-0 victory at Mansfield Stadium in a game that was called in the bottom of the sixth due to the 10-run rule.
Second-seeded Central Aroostook improved to 16-3 and captured its first EM Class D baseball title since 2003. The Panthers will face Western Maine champ Richmond, 14-4 and a 2-1 winner over Greenville, in Saturday’s 3 p.m. state final at Mansfield Stadium.
Defending state champ DI-S, the fifth seed, finished at 11-8.
The Mariners had won three state titles in five years.
Senior righthander Kasey Brewer went the distance, tossing a four-hitter with one strikeout and three walks. He threw 73 pitches, 48 for strikes.
“I just threw my two-seam fastball and my curve,” said Brewer, who aided his own cause with an RBI single in the second and his sixth homer of the season in the fourth.
“I kept the ball down and let the infield do all the work behind me,” added Brewer, who induced 11 ground-ball outs.
The Panthers played errorless ball.
“He kept the ball down and worked the strike zone well,” said Rollins. “His two-seam fastball definitely had a little sink to it.”
Brewer said they have faced pitchers who threw the ball “real slow” like Rollins and admitted that “it’s hard to sit on [off-speed pitches].
“But after we got settled in, we started drilling the ball real hard,” said Brewer.
Seven of the eight runs of Rollins were unearned as the Mariner defense committed four errors, including two costly ones.
“That’s been our bugaboo all season,” said Mariner coach Darren Eaton. “We just didn’t execute defensively.”
Central Aroostook took the lead for good with a run in the first when Garrett Stiles walked, stole second, continued to third on a throwing error and scored on Logan McLaughlin’s grounder on which an error was committed.
A throwing error on Mike McClung’s leadoff grounder to third started the second-inning rally.
Logan Thomas reached on an infield roller to first that went for a base hit when no one covered first.
One out later, two walks forced in the first run.
McLaughlin’s fielder’s choice produced the next run before Brewer ripped an RBI single to left.
“I hit a hanging curve. It was the same pitch I hit for a homer [later]. It was right down the gut,” said Brewer.
Mitch Folsom followed with a long-two run triple to left and Brendan York turned on a fastball right down the middle and pulled an RBI triple to right to cap the rally.
“They’re good. They hit the ball hard,” said Rollins. “I tried to mix my pitches up but I didn’t mix them up quite enough a couple of times.”
Brewer’s homer made it 8-0 and Central Aroostook closed out the game with two runs in the sixth off a pair of relievers as a bases-loaded walk to Folsom and York’s RBI single made it 10-0.
Brewer, Folsom and York all had two hits and two RBIs for the winners.
Rollins, Connor Morey, Deven Haskell and Sam Grindle had singles for Deer Isle-Stonington.
“We knew we had to play good defense and throw strikes today and that’s what we did,” said coach York. “We know we can hit. We put the ball in play and let the other team make mistakes.”