BREWER, Maine— It was a tale of two different teams for the Bangor American Legion baseball team in its contest against Brewer Saturday.
The Comrades were playing their third game in as many days, and after a hot start at the plate, the effects of the stretch came to head late against Brewer. Paced by a nine-run third inning, Bangor went into the final inning with a comfortable 11-3 lead.
The offensive surge in the third proved to be important for Bangor, as Brewer came up with five runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 11-8.
Fortunately for Bangor, starter Curtis Worcester and the defense buckled down to kill the rally and seal the victory for the Comrades, who remain undefeated at 8-0.
In other Legion baseball action over the weekend, Hampden beat Penquis 8-4 on Saturday and Motor City edged Hampden 12-10 on Sunday.
Bangor coach Dave Morris was relieved that the early success of his team combated the late struggles.
“If we played the last three innings the way we played the first three innings, it wouldn’t have been a contest,” said Morris. “We were a little fatigued from playing late last night, and those last three innings showed it because we lost focus.”
Bangor got things started early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first when Hunter Boyce dropped a two-run single into right.
Then came the third inning for the Comrades, who sent 12 men to the plate and scored nine of them. Brewer aided the Bangor offense with five walks in the inning, including two-bases loaded walks to Boyce and Seth Freudenberger to make it 4-0.
Tyler Laplante then stepped in and cleared the bases with a three-run double to bump the Comrades lead to 7-0. Sam Stanhope and Carl Farnham came home on a Brewer error, while Brian Rouleau capped the inning off with a two-run single to make it 11-0.
“They threw a couple young guys with some off-speed stuff and we did a great job staying back and sending the ball the other way,” said Morris.
Brewer showed life with Josh Gale’s two-run double in the fourth and Tyler French’s RBI single in the sixth to get the Falcons on the board and make it 11-3.
Besides the three scattered runs, Worcester was in control of the game and was able to keep the Falcons bats at bay through the first six innings. Though he had the sizeable lead, Worcester continued to throw his own game.
“One of the biggest thing coach tells me all the time is to always pitch like it’s 0-0,” said Worcester. “I just try to pound the zone every time out there and it worked out today.”
As a result of the grueling schedule and Worcester cruising through the Brewer lineup, Morris chose to give some of his starters rest in favor of his talented, but young bench in the sixth. Morris felt it was the right time to make the substitutions given the lead and the limited chances Brewer had left to rally.
“With Curtis being our most experienced pitcher, we forfeited some earned runs to get some other guys some playing time,” he said.
The decision almost proved costly for Morris and Bangor, as Worcester lost the strike zone and loaded the bases with only one out.
Pinch-hitter Dustin Smelly stepped in and ripped a three-run double to right that scored Schuyler Van der Eb, Tyler Maurice, and Carter Deredin after a miscommunication by the defense, dropping the Bangor lead to 11-6.
After a Billy Deredin single, Brewer re-loaded the bases as Dennis O’Neil reached on a dropped third strike. Tyler French’s RBI single made it 11-7, and the rally was still on with one out.
Worcester finally was able to induce a ground ball to get the force at second, but was unable to turn the double play with Matt Morrow reaching at first and Billy Deredin scoring. Dennis O’Neil also attempted to score on the play, but Brian Rouleau gunned him down at home by inches to end the game.
Morris never wrote off the Brewer offense.
“They got some pride and they’re gonna try and come back and give credit to them cause they did, but we anticipated them doing that,” he said. “It was tough situation cause Curtis had sat on the bench for a while with some long breaks and then we just missed a couple balls.”
Lapses aside, Morris was pleased with the way his players handled the situation and happy that they got some much needed experience that may prove important later in the year.
“As far as the pressure, I thought the guys handled it very well,” he said. “You tell kids when they make a commitment here that you trust them and you have to put them in a position to be trusted so that next time they get in there they will have something to build on.”
The Comrades were led by Boyce and Laplante’s three RBIs apiece, while Christian Corneil and Brendan Moore each singled twice.
For Brewer, French and Billy Deredin both singled twice, with Jeremy Bissell and Gale each adding a double.