BANGOR, Maine — Hampden Academy went into the postseason having lost four of its last five games.
That didn’t stop the Broncos from demonstrating playoff intensity and determination Tuesday afternoon.
Dillon Corliss pitched 6⅓ strong innings and eighth-seeded Hampden Academy scored four early runs that held up as the Broncos earned a 5-2 victory Tuesday over No. 9 Edward Little of Auburn in an Eastern Maine Class A baseball prelim at Husson University’s Winkin Complex.
“It all comes down to mental focus, you’ve got to show up to play,” said Hampden junior co-captain Cooper Antone, who doubled and singled to lead a seven-hit attack.
Coach MacLean Poulin’s Broncos (9-8) advance to play No. 1 Bangor (15-1) in a Thursday quarterfinal at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
Coach Scott Annear’s No. 9 Red Eddies finish the season at 8-9.
Poulin said the Broncos went into the contest with the right mindset.
“We struggled there down the stretch, losing our last three, and our heads just weren’t in it,” he said. “Today, they brought their focus, big time.”
Corliss was effective, mostly by spotting his fastball. The senior right-hander (6-1) scattered eight hits while striking out seven and walking three.
“That’s what he’s done all year long,” Poulin said. “As long as we make the plays behind him, and we did that today, we’re fine.”
Corliss was lifted with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh and Matt Palmer responded by striking out the next two batters to preserve the win.
Antone sparked the Broncos with a double, an RBI single and a run scored. Palmer and Pat Later hit run-scoring singles.
Edward Little didn’t string many hits together and hurt its cause by committing four errors. Nate Pushard went the distance and gave up only seven hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
However, errors helped provide unearned runs in the second and third innings, enabling the Broncos to build a 4-1 advantage.
“That’s a big thing with high school baseball,” Poulin said. “When a team makes mistakes, you’ve got to capitalize on them and we did that today.”
John Simpson singled three times to pace the Red Eddies, while Nate Blais posted two singles and an RBI and Josh DeLong hit an RBI single.
Hampden jumped in front in the first inning when Antone doubled down the left-field line and scored on Palmer’s hard, opposite-field single to right.
The Broncos added two runs in the second when Andy Closson singled and Later’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed for an error. One out later, Antone punched an RBI single to right.
Edward Little got a run back in the third on consecutive two-out singles by Simpson and DeLong, but a walk, a wild pitch and a pair of two-out errors on a Matt Martin grounder made it 4-1.
“Usually when we score a lot of runs in the first four innings, it gives me a lot of confidence on the mound,” Corliss said. “I just try to throw strikes, keep our team in it.”
The Broncos added a run in the sixth on Later’s two-out RBI single, but the Eddies rallied.
Sean Ford walked, Pete Lenardis stroked a pinch-hit single and Blais hit an RBI single. Simpson singled, chasing Corliss, but Palmer overpowered the next two batters to end it.