BANGOR — A few days of rest did wonders for Joe Stanevicz on Tuesday night.
The recently graduated Bangor High School lefthander, who hadn’t pitched since the Rams’ narrow loss to Lewiston in the Eastern Class A championship game last Wednesday, came back with a six-hit shutout in his American Legion baseball season debut as Bangor edged Brewer 4-0 in a Zone 1 clash at Mansfield Stadium.
“I was just hitting my spots, and I got my fastball going tonight,” said Stanevicz. “It was probably the best I’ve felt in a long time. The break from the last game of high school to now has helped. My arm got a long time to rest and it really felt good.”
Stanevicz struck out seven batters and walked two during a 109-pitch performance that helped the Comrades improve their record to 5-0.
“I thought Joe had a great high school season, but coming into this we thought we’d give him four or five days of rest,” said Bangor coach Dave Morris. “We just thought giving him that kind of break would be good for him, and he made us look good. He had pop on his fastball, and I thought his curveball was the best I’ve seen him throw.”
Bangor scratched out a pair of unearned runs off Brewer starter Evan Eldridge to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning — the game was played on Bangor’s home field, but Brewer was the home team — before Stanevicz faced his biggest challenge.
That came in the bottom of the sixth, when the 3-2 Falcons loaded the bases with one out on a ground single up the middle by Brandon Gendreau, an infield error that allowed Eric White to reach base and a potential double-play grounder by Nick Moore that caromed off the base umpire for an infield hit.
But Stanevicz outlasted Brewer’s Tim Nason for an eight-pitch strikeout, then got Ryan Adams to fly out to right field to keep the shutout bid intact.
“The one element we sometimes lose sight of is that composure,” said Morris. “If that ball hadn’t hit the umpire it might have been a double play and we would have gotten out of the inning, but I think one of Joe’s strengths is that he can cancel some things out mentally in terms of the pressure, and he did a good job of overcoming that.
“A lot of guys in that situation might walk somebody or give up a big hit or let his emotions take over, but for Joe it was water off a duck’s back, so to speak.”
Bangor added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Cody McInnis singled to the shortstop hole and scored on Anthony Capuano’s one-out double to left-center off Brewer reliever Pat McEwen. Pinch-runner Carl Farnham then came home when Dylan Morris singled to center.
McInnis and Capuano each had two hits to pace Bangor’s nine-hit attack, while Gendreau singled twice for Brewer.
Brewer loaded the bases with two out in the first on walks to Gendreau and Moore around a single to left-center by Kyle McLain, but Stanevicz got Nason to ground out to second to end the threat.
Stanevicz and Eldridge both settled into effective pitching grooves to maintain their scoreless duel into the late innings.
Dylan Morris walked to lead off the Bangor sixth and went to second as Christian Corneil reached on one of five Brewer errors in the contest. Jack Stacey then hit a sharp single to left field, and an outfield error on the play allowed both Morris and Corneil to score.
Eldridge, who like Stanevicz had several days off after pitching for Bucksport in the Eastern B final, allowed just one earned run on seven hits while striking out five and walking two in six-plus innings.