BANGOR, Maine — Tucked inside Rem Poulin’s gym bag is a soccer ball.
For him and his Bangor Christian teammates, it serves as a reminder of the state championships they have won together.
Thursday afternoon, a Patriots team laden with nine underclassmen again demonstrated its skill — this time on the baseball diamond.
Cody Collins scattered five hits through six innings and the Patriots collected 13 hits as No. 4 Bangor Christian won the Eastern Maine Class D baseball championship with an 8-3 victory over No. 3 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook at Mansfield Stadium.
“He brings it [the soccer ball] to every playoff game,” said coach Mike Poulin, whose 18-2 Patriots await Saturday’s 3 p.m. state title game against Western Maine champion Buckfield (16-1) in Bangor.
“Rem [Poulin] and Ben [Bragg] have won three state championships in soccer,” coach Poulin said, “and they have a chance to win another one, so why not just keep it going in another sport?”
Lone senior Brad Wilcox also was a three-year soccer starter for BC.
Collins, a sophomore righthander, held Southern Aroostook (11-5) in check. He mixed a good fastball and an overhand curve while racking up 11 strikeouts.
Collins (6-0) also walked five and hit a batter, but was able to pitch out of trouble most of the game.
“I credit my offense, big time, because I didn’t have my best stuff today but we still won,” Collins said. “We hit the ball well.”
Bangor Christian was relentless on offense, scoring four times in the first three innings to build a lead it would not relinquish. Five players posted two hits apiece and the Patriots stole seven bases, keeping the pressure on the Warriors.
“We play ‘small ball,’ coach Poulin said. “We’re a National League-[style] team because of the BBCOR [bats], and we’ve got the speed and the defense.”
Bragg and David Peters each knocked in two runs with two singles and Poulin singled and drove in three runs to pace the Patriots. Tucker Rice hit two singles with an RBI, while Zac Palmeter, Wilcox and Collins rapped two singles apiece.
Pitcher Pat Goodall led the Warriors with a two-run double, a single and three stolen bases. Parker Walker singled twice and scored a run.
“We just didn’t get our bats going,” Goodall said. “[Collins] was a good pitcher, I’ve got to give him credit. He had a nice curveball today and he made us look foolish.”
Goodall showed off a good fastball and a sharp-breaking slider, but the Patriots were able to get the bat on the ball often.
Bangor Christian took the lead for good in the first inning. Wilcox hit a one-out single, stole second and Bragg beat out a high-chop single to the mound. He stole second, setting up Poulin’s opposite-field, two-run single to right field.
Rem Poulin said the Patriots’ title-game experience helped them stay relaxed.
“Since we’re all soccer players, except for one, we’re all used to it, so we just kept our cool,” he said.
BC added a run in the second on Peters’ RBI single and made it 4-0 in the third when Collins singled and later scored on a Poulin groundout.
Collins worked around some trouble early. He walked the bases loaded in the first but escaped unscathed. In the third and fourth, Southern Aroostook had two men on with two outs, but Collins got inning-ending strikeouts.
The Patriots extended the lead to 6-0 in the fifth behind RBI singles from Rice and Peters, before the Warriors finally got on the board.
Walker and Trent Cullinan opened with singles, setting up Goodall’s line-drive, two-run double past third base. Goodall came around to score when the relay throw to second sailed into foul ground, making it 6-3.
Collins responded by striking out the next three batters.
BC restored its lead to five runs in the sixth on Bragg’s two-run single.
Southern Aroostook reached the championship game having dealt with the loss of 44-year head coach Murray Putnam. On May 15, he was placed on administrative leave after, his supporters say, inappropriate pictures of team members taken during a preseason trip to Boston were posted on the Internet.
After Thursday’s game, the players displayed a Warriors jersey bearing Putnam’s name as they posed with their EM runner-up plaque.
“I’m proud of them for staying with it, keeping their heads focused with everything that’s going on,” said acting Warriors coach Robert Betschner.