HAMPDEN — The disappointment lingers for those who played on the Bangor High School baseball team this spring, their dreams of an undefeated season and a state championship stunningly foiled by rival Brewer in the Eastern Maine Class A semifinals.
Players from that team who now are competing for the Bangor American Legion program hope to use that feeling as motivation for a successful summer, and so far, so good — the Comrades are 5-0 after an 11-7 Zone 1 victory over Hampden-Newport at Bordick Park on Tuesday evening.
“You can’t stop thinking about it,” said Bangor pitcher Nate Lewis, a key member of both teams, “but I think people are pumped up because of it now and are ready to go for this season. It’s definitely a motivation.”
Lewis, a lefthander who recently graduated from Bangor High, allowed two earned runs on nine hits over six innings against the Riverdogs with four strikeouts and no walks.
And on offense, he lacked only a single to complete the cycle — with both a triple and a home run coming during an eight-run second-inning uprising that gave the Comrades an early 8-1 lead.
“When Nate is at his best pitching is when guys are in scoring position, ironically enough. It just seems like he gets tougher and tougher,” said Bangor coach Dave Morris. “He pitched a great game, and he led us offensively as well.”
Lewis added a double in the fifth inning, and his three hits paced a 13-hit Bangor attack that also included a double and a single by Anthony Capuano, two singles and three stolen bases by Christian Corneil and two singles each by Jack Stacey and Dylan Morris.
Hampden-Newport (2-3) got a three-single performance from Alex Cust along with two singles and three runs scored from Cody Miller.
The Riverdogs struck first in this game, with Derek Amoroso hitting a double to deep-left center with one out in the bottom of the first and scoring when Cust singled to center.
Miller then singled off the third-base bag to put runners at first and third with one out, but the game’s momentum changed suddenly when Josh Tardif grounded to Bangor shortstop Cody McInnis, and he and Stacey at second base combined to turn an inning-ending double play.
Bangor’s offense, retired in order in the first inning by Hampden-Newport righthander Justin Amoroso, sent 13 batters to the plate in the top of the second and scored eight runs on seven hits and three Riverdog errors.
“Big plays pump us up, and when that happens we start hitting the ball like no other,” said Lewis. “The double play helped us a lot.”
Lewis started the rally with a triple to deep center, then produced the final runs of the inning with a two-run homer to right field.
“It was a fastball low,” said Lewis, “but it was my pitch.”
Joe Stanevicz added a two-run double for Bangor during the uprising, while Capuano doubled home a run, Jordan Clarke had an RBI single and McInnis plated a run with a sacrifice fly.