AUGUSTA — Nic Cota used sparkling defense to help Bangor to its opening-day victory at the 79th Maine American Legion baseball tournament.
The shortstop used his bat to help the Comrades remain unbeaten through the second day of the eight-team event, hitting a pair of two-run doubles to back Curtis Worcester’s six-hit pitching as Bangor defeated Morrill Post of South Portland 11-4 at McGuire Field on Thursday.
Cota doubled home two runs with two outs in the second inning to help stake the Comrades to a 4-0 lead, then hit another two-run double with two outs in the sixth after Morrill Post had closed to within 4-3.
“The guys did a good job of getting on base before me, and I just feel like I saw the ball a lot better today than I had been,” Cota said.
Bangor (22-6) will face Augusta in a winners’ bracket contest set for 3:30 p.m. Friday. Augusta outslugged defending state champion Gayton Post of Auburn 21-11 in eight innings.
Morrill Post will play Brewer in a 1 p.m. elimination game. Brewer stayed alive with an 8-3 victory over Fayette-Staples of Saco.
Friday’s first game, scheduled for 11 a.m., will be an elimination contest between Gayton and Bessey Motors of South Paris, which eliminated Ramsdell-Rogers of York 9-2 on Thursday.
Worcester struck out seven and walked two during a complete-game performance, and did not allow an earned run.
“At first I was leaving my curveball high early and they were ripping it,” said Worcester, who retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. “They’re a great hitting team, take nothing away from them, but I was leaving those pitches over the plate. Once I settled in, I felt a lot better.”
Bangor took advantage of some early wildness by Morrill Post starter Brendan Horton to build a 4-0 lead through two innings. Horton walked four of the first nine batters he faced, and three of those runners scored.
Cody McInnis drew a leadoff walk in the first, stole second and scored when Joe Stanevicz flared a two-out single to left.
Seth Freudenberger and Carl Farhham, the 8-9 hitters in the Bangor lineup, drew one-out walks in the second and scored when Cota doubled to left-center. Cota then scored on Dylan Morris’ single to left.
“(Horton) threw a fastball, and coach has been stressing to us to sit on the fastball and rip it if we get one,” said Cota.
Morrill Post (15-7) reached Worcester for three unearned runs in the fifth to pull within 4-3 — a rally capped off on Jack Lano’s two-out, hit-and-run RBI single to right.
But that momentum was short lived as Cota struck again in the top of the sixth, pulling a two-out, two-run double over the head of Morrill Post right fielder Shawn Shannon to drive home Jesse Wood and Freudenberger and extend the Bangor lead back to 6-3.
“I let Curtis down a bit in the previous inning with an error,” said Cota, “but that’s when our team had to come back in the dugout, re-gather ourselves and say, ‘Let’s get those runs back,’ and that’s what we did.”
Horton homered to right-center on Worcester’s first pitch in the bottom of the sixth to draw Morrill Post within 6-4, but Christian Corneil greeted reliever Evan Indorf with a solo shot to left leading off the Bangor seventh to restore the Comrades to a three-run advantage.
Bangor padded its lead with four runs in the ninth, with Stanevicz hitting a two-run double to left and coming around to score on a wild pitch before McInnis added an RBI single to drive home Jack Stacey.
Stanevicz finished with a double, single and three RBIs for the Comrades, while Corneil homered and singled and Farnham, McInnis and Freudenberger each singled twice to lead Bangor’s 15-hit attack.
Brewer (20-6) stayed alive earlier in the day behind Pat McEwen’s seven-hit, complete-game pitching effort.
McEwen, who recently finished his second year at Husson University, struck out five batters and walked two while improving his record to 6-0 this summer.
Tyler French and Brandon Gendreau, the 1-2 hitters in the Brewer lineup, paced the Falcons’ nine-hit attack with a double and single each, while Jeremy Bissell added a double.
Fayette-Staples, the Zone 5 runner-up which will play as the host team in the Legion’s Northeast Regional to be held at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach Aug. 4-8, snapped a scoreless tie with two runs in the top of the fourth, but Brewer tied the game in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Nick Moore and Cody Farrell.
The Falcons took the lead with two runs in the fifth. Blake Birmingham was hit by a pitch, stole second and came around to score on a wild pitch. French walked, advanced on a single by Gendreau and scored to make it 4-2 as Eric White reached on an error.
Gendreau had an RBI double and Birmingham singled home a run to highlight a three-run sixth-inning rally that extended the Brewer lead to 7-2.
Fayette-Staples reached McEwen for its final run in the seventh, but Bissell walked in the Brewer eighth and came around to score the game’s final run on a double by French.
<span class=”Sports_agate”>(Game 5)</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>Fayette-Staples 000 200 100 — 3 7 3</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>Brewer 000 223 01x — 8 9 0</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate”>Gelinas, Turnage (7) and Coffin; McEwen and Moore</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate”>(Game 8)</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>Bangor 130 002 104 — 11 15 2</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>Morrill Post 000 031 000 — 4 6 1</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate”>Worcester and Morris; B. Horton, Indorf (7) and Helmke</span>