BANGOR — For Zach Violette and his Brewer Senior League baseball teammates, years of frustration gave way to celebration Tuesday night after a 4-2 victory over Bangor that earned them the Maine District 3 championship and a berth in next month’s Senior League World Series.
“Last year we were 90 feet from going, we were that close, and this year we just wanted to come back and go back to the Senior League World Series,” said Violette, one of several Brewer veterans who fell to Bangor in an extra-inning 2010 district final.
“For seven years we’ve been waiting for this. Since 9-10 all-stars we’ve always come in second to Bangor, every single year. Now in our last year of Senior League, we’ve come together and played our hearts out, and now we’re going to the World Series.”
Brewer, which last played in the SLWS as the host team in 2007, joins defending champion Aruba South Little League of San Nicolas, Aruba, Tanauan City, Philippines, and Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy, as teams that have already qualified for this year’s 10-team field.
The new District 3 champions will face Canada in the opening game of SLWS pool play at noon Sunday, Aug. 14. Pool play continues through Aug. 18, with the semifinals on Aug. 19 and the world championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.
“You have peaks and valleys, and last year was definitely a valley,” said Brewer manager Roger White. “My younger son (Tyler) played for me last year, and he wanted to get to the World Series like his brother (Eric) did when he played but he came one pitch away from realizing that dream.
“Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but if you work at it long enough good things will happen.”
Evan Pelkey and Violette combined to pitch a two-hitter and Jeremy Bissell’s double keyed a three-run sixth-inning rally that rallied Brewer to its second victory over Bangor in as many nights.
Bangor took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but back-to-back one-out infield singles by Matt Morrow and Violette gave Brewer hope.
Bissell then converted that hope into runs, slicing a double down the right-field line to drive home Morrow with the tying run, and Violette also scored on the play to give Brewer a 3-2 lead when the ball was mishandled in the outfield.
“Tyler was throwing a real good game, but he left one outside and I just drove it opposite field,” said Bissell. “When I hit it I started second-guessing that it might be foul, but then I knew it was going to be fair so I just kept cruising around.”
Bissell reached third base on the play, and scored Brewer’s final run on a groundout by Ian Forrest.
“Jeremy Bissell was the offensive star of this tournament,” said White. “When we needed a big hit to get us started or to to drive in that big run, he did it (Monday) night (in Brewer’s 5-0 win over Bangor) and he did it again tonight.”
Bangor threatened in the top of the seventh as Jordan Treadwell hit a one-out single and Mark Paulette walked, but Violette got Carl Farnham to hit a fielder’s choice grounder that forced Paulette out at second base, then struck out the next batter to end the game.
Pelkey pitched five innings before reaching the 95-pitch Senior League limit. The righthander yielded just a leadoff single to Farnham in the top of the first while striking out seven and walking four.
“I didn’t know what to expect in the first inning, whether I was going to throw a good game or a bad one,” said Pelkey. “Just getting by that first inning was big, because I knew we’d come back — at least I hoped we would.”
Violette struck out two batters while walking one and allowing one hit in his two innings.
Laplante, a lefthander, pitched a complete-game eight-hitter for Bangor with four strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.
Bangor took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Farnham singled to right and went to second on a swinging bunt in front of the plate by Nic Leach. After a walk to Nic Ashey, Farnham scored with two outs by stealing third and coming home on an overthrow.
Bangor added a second unearned run in the fourth. Bryan Rouleau drew a one-out walk, then stole second with two outs before scoring as Hunter Boyce reached on an infield error.
Brewer cut the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Jeff Weeks hit a leadoff single to left, but was forced out at second on Morrow’s grounder back to the mound. Morrow reached second on the play thanks to an errant relay throw and moved to third on a single tby Violette — who was cut down trying to advance to second on the throw home.
Morrow then scored on a wild pitch.
“I think this is more important than the World Series, just getting there and beating Bangor,” said Pelkey. “This is the biggest game I’ve ever pitched in.”
Bangor 100 100 0 — 2 2 2
Brewer 000 102 x — 4 8 2
Laplante and Boyce; Pelkey, Violette (6) and Forrest