BANGOR — Curtis Worcester has been a source of great frustration to his opponents when on the mound so far this year, a quick-working strike machine who baffles batters by changing speeds and with the movement on his pitches that seemingly comes natural to lefthanders.
Worcester yielded his first run after a string of 26 scoreless innings dating back to the high school season Thursday evening, but that was all he allowed in leading the undefeated Bangor American Legion baseball team to a 7-1 Zone 1 victory over Motor City at Mansfield Stadium.
Worcester struck out four batters and walked just two during a 99-pitch five-hitter to earn his second victory for the 6-0 Comrades.
“My curveball was real good tonight,” he said. “I worked on it a lot in the bullpen and felt a lot of confidence with it today.”
And as much as Worcester has tormented opposing lineups in recent weeks, his propensity for throwing strikes — he had 69 against Motor City — and not wasting time between pitches has made him a favorite of his defensive teammates.
“Curtis is the exact kind of pitcher you want to play behind because he works fast and throws a lot of strikes,” said Bangor shortstop Cody McInnis. “He always keeps you on your toes because he gets a lot of ground balls.
“That’s all you can ask for from a pitcher. No matter what level you’re playing, all you want him to do is throw strikes and that’s what Curtis does.”
Motor City righthander Casey Estes matched Worcester early in the contest, yielding only an unearned run in the bottom of the first until Bangor broke the game open with a three-run rally in the fourth.
Bangor first baseman Anthony Capuano, whose batting average during the high school and Legion seasons combined this year has hovered around .500, began the uprising by reaching on an infield error. A single to right by Joe Stanevicz and an infield hit to the shortstop hole by Dylan Morris then loaded the bases with no one out.
That brought up Comrades center fielder Christian Corneil. He ripped a 2-2 pitch to the opposite field past diving Motor City first baseman Chris Hammond for a two-run single to extend the Bangor lead to 3-0.
“Coach (Dave Morris) told me to go up there and get my pitch,” Corneil said. “(Estes) got ahead of me in the count and then I tried to battle back, then he gave me a low, outside fastball and I just went with it the other way and put a good swing on it.”
Dylan Morris then scored on a double-play grounder by Jack Stacey for the final run of the inning.
Motor City (2-4) finally broke through against Worcester in the top of the fifth, with consecutive two-out singles by Estes, Phil Benoit and Sean O’Donnell cutting the deficit to 4-1.
Capuano hit a one-out double to left-center to drive home McInnis in the bottom of the fifth to restore Bangor’s four-run lead, then Stacey drilled an RBI triple to deep center with one out in the sixth and scored on a passed ball for the game’s final run.
Bangor’s first-inning run came when Capuano grounded a two-out single to left, stole second and went to third on a throwing error before scoring as Stanevicz reached on another Motor City error.
Capuano was the game’s lone repeat hitter with a double and a single.
Zak Kochis had Motor City’s lone extra-base hit, a fourth-inning double.