BANGOR, Maine — The parity that typified the upper echelon of the American Legion Zone 1 baseball ranks during the regular season this summer has carried over into postseason play.
Top-ranked Bangor and second-seeded Motor City each managed a one-run victory in the opening round of the double-elimination phase of the Zone 1 tournament Monday, with Bangor edging No. 4 Hampden 6-5 and Motor City topping No. 3 Brewer 3-2.
Bangor and Motor City, both 17-2, will meet in a winners bracket game at 7 p.m. Tuesday, just after the 4 p.m. elimination game between 10-9 Brewer and 10-10 Hampden.
“I think this tournament’s wide open,” said Bangor coach Dave Morris. “I wouldn’t be shocked if somebody in the loser’s bracket comes back and does a real good job. I think of the teams that are here everybody’s played everybody tough, so it’s expected that there will be some close games.”
In the opener, righthander Casey Estes scattered five hits over eight innings and contributed two hits, an RBI and a run scored to the Motor City offense.
“Things went well. When I started getting a little wild my defense picked me up and my offense got some timely hits,” said Estes. “It was a collective team effort.”
Estes struck out 10 batters and walked just one during a 117-pitch performance before giving way to Evan Pelkey, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
“Mostly I just spotted my fastball and I was getting my curve over for strikes,” said Estes.
Estes needed to be sharp to outduel Brewer’s Kyle McLain, who allowed seven hits while striking out seven and walking four in a complete-game performance.
“The last couple of starts Casey’s been zoned in,” said Motor City coach Jason Coleman. “Early in the year it took him a while to get back into pitching because it had been a year since he pitched against live action. But he’s settled in and found his rhythm, and his off-speed pitches are working very well right now.”
Motor City never trailed while defeating Brewer for the fourth time this summer, scratching out single runs in the first, second and fourth innings to build a 3-0 lead.
Cam Archer drew a seven-pitch walk with one out in the Motor City second, stole second and went to third as Sean Curran pulled a ground ball to the right side of the infield before scoring on a wild pitch.
Estes hit a leadoff infield single to the shortstop hole in the third, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single by Tyler Eddy.
Gabe Melmed drew a two-out walk in the Motor City fourth, advanced to third as Andrew Catlin reached on an infield error and scored on Estes’ single to left — a play that ended with Josh Gale throwing out a runner at the plate for the second straight inning.
Brewer broke through against Estes in the bottom of the inning as Nick Moore reached on a wild pitch after striking out and scoring when Jordan Carter followed with an RBI double to right center.
The Falcons made it a one-run game with a two-out rally an inning later, as Carter singled to center, reached second base on a wild pitch and scored when Jeremy Bissell flared a single to right.
In the second game, Bangor jumped on Hampden starter Shawn Smith for five runs in the bottom of the first, a rally included three walks and was capped off by Bryan Rouleau’s two-run, opposite-field triple down the right-field line.
That gave Bangor pitcher Curtis Worcester an early cushion, and after yielding a leadoff single to Kevin Frederick to open the contest, the lefthander retired the next 13 batters he faced.
Hampden finally broke through with four runs in the sixth inning. Matt Palmer and Patrick Later each drew a one-out walk, then Smith hit a two-out RBI single to right and Andrew Giosia followed with a run-scoring double down the left-field line to make it 5-2.
Smith scored on a wild pitch, and Giosia scored from third to make it 5-4 after Justin Amoroso took off for second base after drawing a walk while Bangor’s defense thought time was called.
“We kind of got caught in a no-man’s land,” said Morris, whose team managed just four hits in the game, none after the fourth inning. “When you get those five runs early like we did you’re thinking you’d get some more and you tend to relax, and Hampden did a good job to come back.”
Bangor used four walks and two wild pitches to score a run in the bottom of the sixth, with Nick Ashey scoring from third on a two-out wild pitch by Hampden reliever Spencer Hartsgrove.
Hampden made it a one-run game again in the top of the eighth, with Frederick’s two-out single to left driving home pinch-runner Tristan Gardner from second base.
Worcester allowed eight hits while working a complete game with seven strikeouts and five walks as Bangor earned its fourth win of the season over the Riverdogs.
Christian Corneil singled twice for the Comrades, while Frederick, Giosia and Amoroso each had two hits for Hampden.