BANGOR, Maine — The introduction of BBCOR bat standards in high school baseball is intended to slow the speed of the ball upon impact, ultimately placing an even greater emphasis on pitching, base running and defense.
The Bangor Rams have adjusted to the change quite quickly — and quite successfully based on their first two games of the season.
Junior righthander Greg Duff pitched a two-hitter and Bangor combined an eight-hit attack with aggressive tactics on the base paths to defeat Brunswick 5-0 in its home opener at Mansfield Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The win was the second straight by shutout for the Rams, coming two days after senior lefthander Curtis Worcester pitched a five-inning one-hitter in an 11-0 victory at Mt. Blue of Farmington.
“Seventeen hits and 16 runs in the first two games and just three hits and no runs allowed, I couldn’t be happier,” said Bangor senior center fielder Christian Corneil.
Duff struck out eight batters, walked two and allowed just a second-inning single by Brett Lancaster and a leadoff double in the top of the seventh by Garrett Erb. He went to a three-ball count on just three batters while throwing 84 pitches, 62 for strikes.
“He was efficient, he threw strikes and he didn’t panic,” Bangor coach Jeff Fahey said. “They had the leadoff guy on in three innings, but Greg just kept pitching.”
Duff was backed by a defense that featured two high-quality catches by Corneil, the first an over-the-shoulder catch on a deep fly to straightaway center by Trent Anderson in the top of the third. The second was a diving catch on a pop-up to shallow center by Lancaster in the seventh.
“I was trying to keep the ball down low and away and let my fielders make some great plays,” Duff said. “Christian made some great catches out there, I love the guy. He saved me a couple of times.”
Leadoff hitter Carl Farnham paced Bangor’s offense, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances on a double, two singles and a hit batter.
“I was just seeing the ball really well,” said Farnham, who also had two of Bangor’s four stolen bases. “A lot of people say when you’re batting leadoff that you should see a lot of pitches. I’m just thinking that I need to get on base and I was able to do that today.”
Duff struck out the side after issuing a leadoff walk in the top of the first, then Bangor took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning when Cody Savage hit a one-out ground single to left to drive home Wyatt Frost, who had walked.
Farnham doubled to left to open the Bangor third, moved to third on a sacrifice by Frost and scored when Corneil singled to center.
The Rams broke the game open an inning later with a three-run rally that sent nine batters to the plate. Sean Stanhope drew a leadoff walk and pinch-runner Nick Leach advanced to third when Bryan Rouleau lined an 0-2 pitch to right for an opposite-field single.
Rouleau stole second, and an errant throw by Brunswick catcher Zach Lavoie on the play enabled Leach to score and Rouleau to reach third. Rouleau then scored on a wild pitch by Brunswick starter Brady Larson to make it 4-0.
Parker Sanderson followed with a one-out single to center, moved to second when Farnham was hit by a pitch and to third on a single to right by Frost before scoring the game’s final run on a wild pitch.
“We didn’t win that many games in preseason,” said Farnham of a Bangor team that includes six seniors, eight juniors and four sophomores. “But we had a really tough schedule and I think that’s helped us in these first couple of games. We got to see some really good pitching and we brought that experience to the regular season and we’ve been hitting the ball well and putting up some runs.”