BANGOR, Maine — Experience can have its benefits for young athletes, like fewer butterflies on the world stage.
A veteran Bangor Senior League All-Star team parlayed experience into flawless execution Sunday, opening the 2010 Senior League World Series with an 8-0 victory over the Canadian champion Edmonton (Alberta) East Park Orioles at Mansfield Stadium.
Jesse Wood and Cody Savage combined to pitch a three-hit shutout, Josiah Hartley, Luke Hetterman and Nic Cota sparked a 10-hit offense with two hits each, and the Maine District 3 champions played errorless defense — an effort capped off by a spectacular catch by second baseman Seth Freudenberger to set up a game-ending double play.
“That’s an excellent baseball team, we kind of think of them like a college team they’re so good,” said East Park manager Greg Olson. “We’ve never played against a team that [good], and they certainly deserved to win this game.”
Wood retired the first 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits over 5¤ innings before leaving the game with a 5-0 lead after throwing the maximum 75 pitches that under Senior League would still allow him to come back on three days rest to pitch in Bangor’s final game of pool play Thursday against defending SLWS champion West University Little League of Houston, Texas.
“Jesse made the call, which was a good call and a team call,” said Bangor manager Ron St. Pierre, whose team returns to action at 5 p.m. today against Lazio, Italy.
“Then Cody Savage came in and got us out of the [sixth] inning, and the rest is history.”
Wood struck out seven batters and walked no one, reaching a three-ball count on just two batters while not allowing a runner past second base.
“My curve ball was dropping a lot today and my slider was breaking,” said Wood. “My changeup wasn’t really working but [catcher] Dylan [Morris] mixed up the pitches a lot and kept them off balance.”
Bangor’s batters, meanwhile, were on target against righthander Taylor Thomas, who worked into the sixth.
Thomas struck out three, walked two and hit a batter, but seven different Bangor players had at least one hit.
“I felt like the pitching we faced today was like what we’d seen in Senior League before,” said Hartley, one of 10 Bangor players who also competed at the older American Legion level this summer. “Their pitcher wasn’t overpowering but he had some pretty good breaking pitches so we waited back on it and hit the ball pretty well.”
East Park was without two of its better pitchers, Kyle Rosell and Peter Quenneville, who weren’t yet eligible to return to the mound after working in the Canadian semifinals and championship game Thursday.
“I don’t think it would have mattered who pitched against this team,” said Olson. “Taylor’s kind of a junkball pitcher so that may have mixed them up a little, but I think if I had pitched one of the faster guys they might have scored a lot more runs.”
Defensively, Bangor made all the routine plays behind Wood and Savage, with Freudenberger providing a dose of the spectacular in the top of the seventh.
Quenneville led off the inning with a single to left before Rosell flared a one-out pop-up into right-center field. Freudenberger raced out from second base and made a lunging catch with his back to home plate, then righted himself and threw the ball to first baseman Anthony Capuano to complete the game-ending double play.
“I figured it was going to be too shallow for the outfielders to get so I had to make a play on it,’” said Freudenberger. “I got up and Josiah was screaming for me to throw it to first, and I was able to double him off.”
Bangor took a 1-0 lead in the the second when Hartley singled, went to second on one of four Canadian errors and to third on a wild pitch before scoring when Capuano singled to center.
“I was just looking for something to drive, and he gave it to me,” said Capuano of the 2-2 pitch. “I just took a swing and was excited to get a hit.”
The lead grew to 3-0 an inning later when Hetterman hit a one-out single, Adam King drove an RBI triple to deep right-center and Freudenberger lofted a sacrifice fly to center.
Bangor manufactured a run in the fourth as Morris hit a one-out double, reached third on a single by Cota and scored after Cota purposely got himself trapped in a rundown between first and second.
Christian Corneil ripped a leadoff single off the glove of Canadian third baseman Alex Cordingly in the fifth, stole second and went to third on a throwing error before scoring to make it 5-0 on Hetterman’s sacrifice fly to center.
Bangor padded its lead with a three-run sixth, highlighted by Hartley racing home from second base on a wild pitch and a single by Cota that drove home Capuano, who had singled and stolen second base.
“I know we were all seeing the ball well today,” said Hetterman. “I think we just went out there to do our job and put it in play.”
Canada (0-1) 000 000 0 — 0 3 4
Bangor (1-0) 012 113 x — 8 10 0
Thomas, Baillie (6) and Davis; Wood, Savage (6) and Morris; WP-Wood (1-0); LP-Thomas (0-1); Repeat hitters: Hetterman (B), Hartley (B), Cota (B); Extra-base hits: 2B: Morris (B); 3B: King (B)