BANGOR — After playing three games spanning 27 innings within a 26-hour span this weekend, just one play may have separated the Brewer and Bangor American Legion baseball teams.
And it was a play that helped Brewer emerge as the 2010 Zone 1 champion.
No. 2 Brewer outlasted top-seeded Bangor 11-6 in Sunday’s championship game at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University after Bangor forced a winner-take-all game by edging the Falcons 5-4 earlier in the day.
The teams also met in a winners’ bracket game Saturday, which Brewer won 6-4.
Brewer (15-5) now advances directly to the American Legion state tournament that begins July 28 at the Wainwright Complex in South Portland. Bangor (17-4) must face the yet-to-be determined Zone 5 (York County) runner-up in a play-in game to qualify the state tourney at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday, also in South Portland.
“We really wanted to get to the state tournament whether it was through a play-in game or not,” said Brewer first baseman Kyle McLain. “Beating Bangor is a real nice way to get there.”
McLain was instrumental in the pivotal play of the final game.
Brewer had moved out to a 4-0 lead through two innings, but Bangor scored single runs in the fourth and fifth and then loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth.
Bangor first baseman Anthony Capuano, who had seven hits in the Comrades’ first three tourney games, then ripped a line drive down the first-base line — but right to McLain, who caught the ball and needed just one step to touch first base for a double play.
“Kyle was playing in the right spot, and that’s baseball, sometimes you get those plays and sometimes you don’t,” said Brewer coach Chris Morris. “It was a great hit by Anthony, but our guy was right there.”
Brewer starter Tyler French then intentionally walked Josiah Hartley — who had blasted a long home run to left in his previous at-bat — to re-load the bases before getting Bryan Rouleau on an inning-ending pop-out.
“[Capuano] did the same thing the previous at-bat, he smoked one right at me,” said McLain. “That’s just right place, right time, it’s all reaction.
“But I’m not going to lie, I sort of expected it so I was ready.”
Brewer regained control with a three-run seventh that featured an RBI single by Eric White and a two-run homer by Chase Daniels.
Bangor scored three runs in the bottom of the inning, but the Comrades’ pitching staff couldn’t stop the Falcons, who added three runs in the eighth and one more in the ninth.
“Good teams are going to find ways to win, and Brewer pitched well and they hit the ball well,” said Brewer coach Dave Morris, Chris Morris’ uncle.
“We did the same things, it’s just that some of their hits found some gaps and some of our hits found their gloves.”
French worked into the seventh to gain the pitching win with three innings of relief help from Tim Nason.
That duo was aided by three double plays by the Falcons, who turned six overall during Sunday’s doubleheader.
“I was a little nervous because I didn’t think I was going to have to pitch today,” said French. “I knew I wasn’t going to strike many people out because that’s not what I do. I just throw strikes and get people to hit ground balls, and the fielders today were amazing.”
White tripled, singled and had three RBIs to pace Brewer’s 13-hit attack. McLain doubled and singled, while French and Jordan Richards each singled twice and Blake Birmingham had three RBIs with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.
Seth Freudenberger, who drove home the winning run in Sunday’s opener, had three singles in the second game for Bangor. Hartley added a homer and a single, while Jordan Clarke doubled and singled.
In the first game, Freudenberger’s ground single to left with two out in the bottom of the ninth drove home pinch-runner Christian Corneil to give Bangor the victory.
Capuano drew a two-out walk and went to third on a single to center by Hartley. That brought up Freudenberger, who was starting at second base in place of Jack Stacey, sidelined by a thumb injury.
Freudenberger hit a 1-1 pitch by Nason through the shortstop hole, and Corneil scored easily from third base.
“I was thinking if he threw me a fastball I had to hit it hard,” said Freudenberger. “When he threw me that 1-1 fastball I was just taking a hack and seeing what happened.”
Brewer took a 2-0 lead on an inside-the-park home run by Cody Farrell in the top of the second, but Lyshon countered with a solo homer to left in the bottom of the inning to pull Bangor within 2-1.
The game then settled down into a pitching duel between Daniels and Bangor’s Jesse Wood. who both worked into the ninth inning.
Bangor tied the game in the sixth as Cody McInnis reached on an infield hit, was sacrificed to second by Clarke, went to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball.
Brewer regained the lead in the top of the eighth when Brandon Gendreau walked and scored on back- to-back singles by Daniels and McLain, but Bangor’s third double play of the game muted that rally.
Bangor took its first lead in the bottom of the inning on Clarke’s two-run double to right-center.
Brewer tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the ninth. Farrell hit a leadoff single, moved to third on a double by Pat McEwen and scored on a single to center by Birmingham. The Falcons still had runners on second and third with no one out, but Clarke came on in relief of Wood and struck out two batters while preventing Brewer from taking the lead.