AUGUSTA — The Lewiston Blue Devils had just taken the baseball equivalent of a haymaker to the temple, as Bangor pinch runner Jacob Searles scored from second base on a wild pitch to suddenly tie Wednesday’s Eastern Class A baseball final in the top of the seventh inning.
But after enduring that stunning turn of events, top-ranked Lewiston just as suddenly regrouped, with Corbin Hyde singling home older brother Mekae Hyde with no one out in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 win over No. 2 Bangor and its first regional title since 1950.
“We had to know it was going to be a one- or two-run ballgame,” said Lewiston coach Todd Cifelli. “We made it a little harder on ourselves with some mistakes, but we talked before the game about battling through some adversity when it happens, and I think we did that.”
Lewiston (18-1) plays Cheverus of Portland for the state title at 2 p.m. Saturday, also at Morton Field in Augusta.
Bangor ends its season with a 15-4 record.
“We missed some opportunities, but we also gave them way too many chances,” said Bangor coach Jeff Fahey. “We made seven or eight mistakes that we don’t normally make, we just didn’t play well enough to win. Lewiston did just enough. They hit the ball better than we did, they fielded it better and we couldn’t get a big hit when we needed it.”
Bangor trailed 4-1 through five innings, but a two-out, two-run double in the top of the sixth by Jack Stacey off Corbin Hyde drove home Nic Cota and Seth Freudenberger to draw the Rams to within a run.
Bangor tied the game in the top of the seventh against Lewiston reliever Joe Sullivan. Anthony Capuano reached on an error to open the inning, then Searles advanced to second on Dylan Morris’ comebacker to the mound.
Joe Stanevicz struck out, but Sullivan’s 2-2 pitch to Christian Corneil rolled to the backstop along the first-base side and when Blue Devils catcher Mekae Hyde couldn’t locate the ball, Bangor third base coach Dave Morris waved Searles home with the tying run.
“That was the coaching call of the year,” said Cifelli. “That was a money call on his part, and what I like about it was it forced the defense to make a play. It almost came back to bite us.”
Luke Hettermann, Bangor’s fourth pitcher of the contest, came on in the bottom of the seventh, and Mekae Hyde, a senior, singled to center and took second on a balk before Corbin Hyde powered a 1-2 pitch to left-center field to end the game.
“I really wasn’t nervous in that at-bat,” said Corbin Hyde, a junior. “I knew (Hettermann) was going to throw me an offspeed pitch because he had been throwing me fastballs, so I waited on it and shot it into the gap.”
Lewiston loaded the bases with no one out in the first on singles by Luke Cote and Scott Ouellette and a walk to Mekae Hyde. But Stanevicz, the Bangor starter, escaped a big inning, yielding just a one-out sacrifice fly by Jeff Keene.
Bangor tied the game in the second. Stanevicz was hit by a pitch, went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Stacey reached on a two-out infield error.
Lewiston seemingly took control with two runs in the third inning and another run in the bottom of the fourth — after Blue Devils first baseman Ben Wigant was sidelined with an apparent knee injury in a collision with Cota during a rundown in the top of that inning.
Mekae Hyde was hit by a pitch with one out in the Lewiston third, moved to second on an infield hit by Corbin Hyde and scored on Keene’s single to left. A throwing error on the play enabled Corbin Hyde to reach third, and he scored on a balk to make it 3-1.
Chris Madden walked to open the Lewiston fourth and reached third on a single to left by Tucker Beaudoin and a bunt single by Cote that loaded the bases with no one out. Ouellette followed with a sacrifice fly to right, but again Bangor escaped with just one run allowed as Mekae Hyde flied out to left and Beaudoin was caught off second base for an inning-ending double play.
Corbin Hyde pitched 5 2/3 innings for Lewiston, allowing three unearned runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts before Sullivan came on to gain the win.
Stanevicz pitched three-plus innings for Bangor, which then got three innings of shutout relief from Curtis Worcester and Jesse Wood.
Capuano and Cota each had two singles for Bangor, while Stacey and Adam King each doubled. Corbin Hyde and Cote each singled twice for Lewiston.