BANGOR, Maine — Old Town Little Leaguer Barrett Cote had nothing to lose in Friday night’s mutual opener of the District 3 All-Star tournament for ages 11-12 against Bangor West.
Cote, a left-handed hitting first baseman, already had accomplished more than even he expected this year. The 12-year-old was a consistent player who never had made an All-Star team in his young Little League career, but that all changed when Old Town coach Shawn Leland chose Cote for this year’s squad.
Cote kicked off his inaugural tourney in a big way, picking up two RBI singles to lead Old Town over Bangor West 5-3.
“I felt kind of pressured at first,” said Cote.“But as soon as I got the hits, I was so pumped.”
Cote knew exactly what he wanted to do when he stepped up to face hard-throwing right-hander Alex McKenney.
“I knew if the first pitch was close I was going to swing,” he said.
“First-time All-Star came with his bat today and it was awesome,” added coach Leland.
After Bangor took a 1-0 lead in the third on a Henry Nagle sacrifice fly, Cote answered for Old Town in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single that brought Dakota Madden around from second and tied the game 1-1.
With the game still tied in the bottom of the fifth, Cote stepped up and sent the first pitch he saw into left field for an RBI single to put Old Town up 2-1. Next came Ethan Stoddard, who provided the knockout blow with a three-run inside-the-park home run to make it 5-1.
“I thought I was going to get a triple at most, but I rounded third and made it home,” said Stoddard.
Bangor West made a last-ditch effort in the sixth after Nagle scored on a passed ball and Ben Lane dropped an RBI double into right to make it 5-3.
Old Town reliever Hunter Brasslett then buckled down to get the final two outs and secure the victory.
Leland had high praise for Brasslett’s work, coming in with runners on and being able to shut the door on the Bangor rally.
“He came in and did his job,” Leland said.
Until that final inning, the spotlight was on the pitcher’s duel between Bangor’s McKenney and Old Town’s Stoddard. While McKenney blew batters away with speed, Stoddard mixed his pitches and held Bangor to one hit before leaving in the sixth after hitting his 85-pitch limit.
“My curve and fastball were on today,” said Stoddard.
Leland said it was a typical effort from Stoddard, but was more impressed with his ability to adjust.
“Ethan got a little frustrated at one point because he wasn’t sure where he was missing,” he said. “He figured it out, got the ball down, and did a great job for us.”
The Old Town stars collected just three hits off McKenney but were able to capitalize on miscues by the Bangor West defense to get runners into scoring position for each hit.
“Once they got their timing, their confidence went up,” Leland said of his team’s ability to make adjustments to their approach.
Old Town advances in the winners bracket and will host Millinocket on Monday, while Bangor West drops into the losers bracket and will play Thursday against an undetermined opponent.
Leland was thrilled with his team’s effort, but also knows there are some areas to work on before meeting up with a good Millinocket club.
“There’s just a couple of little things we will work on at practice, like keeping their heads up and getting to the ball quicker,” he said. “[We] just have to be ready for whatever Millinocket brings.”