BANGOR, Maine — Bangor showed it could compete with the best teams in the Senior League World Series on Wednesday night.
But tradition-rich South Vineland, N.J., showed the complete effort required to thrive among the elite.
The U.S. East champions scored runs in five different innings and capitalized on five Bangor errors to defeat the host Maine District 3 champions 10-5 in a Pool A battle of unbeatens played before a crowd of 1,750 at Mansfield Stadium.
“When you make five errors, you just can’t win,” said Bangor catcher Dylan Morris of the miscues, which enabled South Vineland to score four unearned runs.
The win clinches first place in the pool and a berth in Friday’s semifinals for 3-0 South Vineland, which will conclude preliminary-round play at 8 p.m. Thursday against Lazio, Italy.
It will mark the first time in South Vineland’s four trips to the SLWS since the event was moved to Bangor in 2002 that it has advanced beyond pool play.
“This team just rises to the occasion,” said South Vineland manager Abe Heredia, who also was part of the coaching staff during two previous South Vineland sojourns to Bangor. “This team just finds a way to come back.”
Bangor (2-1) faces a simple challenge in its final pool game Thursday — a win over the defending SLWS champion West University Little League of Houston, Texas, advances manager Ron St. Pierre’s club to the semifinals.
“I’m not discouraged at all,” said St. Pierre. “I’m sure we’ll be back in good form [Thursday].”
South Vineland jumped on Bangor starter Bryan Rouleau for three runs on four hits in the top of the first inning, a rally highlighted by a two-out, two-run single by winning pitcher Eli Carter.
But Rouleau settled down, and his team regrouped.
Bangor nearly broke through in the second, with runners on first and third with two out. But when Seth Freudenberger lined what looked like a single to right field, South Vineland outfielder Brandon Triantos cut him down with a rare 9-3 play to prevent a run from scoring.
“I knew they had a runner on third, and we wanted to keep them from scoring,” said Triantos. “I came in on it, and I knew [first baseman] Andrew Biggs would be there for me.”
One inning later, Bangor showed off the hitting strength that had powered it to 21 runs in its first two SLWS games with a four-run uprising after two were out in the bottom of the third.
Cleanup hitter Anthony Capuano battled through a lengthy at-bat against Carter by grounding a two-run single up the middle to drive home Rouleau and Christian Corneil. After Morris reached on an infield hit, Josiah Hartley hit a two-run double to left-center to give Bangor a sudden lead.
But South Vineland was undeterred.
“We’ve been behind before,” said third baseman Carlos Lebron. “We were down in the regional and at states, and we’ve shown a lot of heart to come back.”
South Vineland regained the lead with three runs in the top of the fourth, aided by two Bangor errors and two walks after a leadoff single by Tevon Potts.
The New Jersey champs made it 7-4 in the fifth when Lebron hit a leadoff single to left and scored on Carter’s two-out single to right, then added an unearned run in the sixth as Vaughn Watson reached on a bunt single, went to third on an errant throw and scored on a wild pitch.
Bangor scored its final run in the bottom of the sixth as Nic Cota hit a leadoff triple to right center and scored on a single to center by Freudenberger.
South Vineland added two insurance runs in the seventh on another single by Lebron, two walks, an RBI fielder’s choice by Jerrod Corneill and another Bangor error.
“There’s not a lot to say,” said St. Pierre. “You can’t make five errors and have any kind of chance to win, especially against a top-notch team like New Jersey.”
Carter worked the first five innings to earn the pitching win for South Vineland. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed four runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks before getting relief help from Corneill and Chris Lopez, who struck out the game’s final two batters.
Lebron, Potts and Carter and Watson provided the bulk of South Vineland’s nine-hit offense with two singles each.
Morris had two of Bangor’s seven hits, both singles.
U.S. East (3-0) 300 311 2 — 10 9 1
Bangor (2-1) 004 001 0 — 5 7 5
Carter, Corneill (6), Lopez (7) and Potts; Rouleau, Savage (5), Duff (7) and Morris; WP-Carter (1-0); LP-Rouleau (0-1); Repeat hitters: Vaughn (E), Lebron (E), Potts (E), Carter (E); Morris (B); Extra-base hits: 2B-Capuano (B), Hartley (B); 3B-Cota (B)