BANGOR, Maine — Greg Duff pitched a six-hitter and Christian Corneil had a 5-for-5 night at the plate Tuesday as top-seeded Bangor defeated No. 2 Motor City 7-4 in a winners bracket game of the American Legion Zone 1 baseball tournament at Husson University.
No. 3 Brewer, a 9-6 winner over No. 4 Hampden in Tuesday’s elimination game, will face Motor City at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with the winner of that game needing to defeat Bangor twice to win the zone title.
Bangor (18-2) has clinched at least a berth in Saturday’s state tournament play-in round at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach for a chance to advance to the state tournament and needs just one more victory to secure the Zone 1 title and an automatic berth to the 10-team state tourney Aug. 1-5 at OOB.
Duff yielded three runs — two unearned — on three hits in the top of the first, then allowed just three more hits the rest of the way while striking out four batters and walking one.
“In that situation I just have to trust my teammates, and I can always count on them to get us back into the game,” said Duff. “I just had to keep pitching and trust them to make the plays. It was a little shaky in the beginning, but they came through in the end.”
Corneil improved his tournament batting average to .700 (7 for 10) with three doubles and two singles, none of them softly hit as the Bangor center fielder turned to a slightly heavier bat with significant results.
“I’ve been struggling the last couple of games trying to see the ball and getting out in front of it,” said Corneil. “I switched up bats tonight in batting practice and it felt pretty good, and it worked out during the game.”
Carl Farnham singled home two runs and scored on a double by Corneil in the bottom of the sixth to give Bangor the lead for good.
Motor City starter Max Andrews retired the first two batters in the Bangor sixth but then walked Bryan Rouleau and Seth Freudenberger, the Nos. 8 and 9 batters in the Comrades’ lineup.
Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, then Farnham then lined the eighth pitch of his at-bat into right field to drive home Rouleau and Freudenberger and give Bangor a 5-4 edge.
“I got ahead in the count and I let a ball go by that I knew was a strike, but I was still ahead,” said Farnham. “Then I fouled five in a row off, I kept battling and battling and sometime during that at-bat I thought, ‘I’m going to get this hit.’”
Corneil followed with his third double in as many at-bats, pulling a drive down the left-field line to give the Comrades a two-run cushion.
Hunter Boyce had three singles to Bangor’s 14-hit attack, while Curtis Worcester doubled and singled for the Comrades.
Casey Estes tripled and singled for 17-3 Motor City.
Motor City capitalized on two throwing errors by Bangor in building its 3-0 first-inning lead, with Estes and Evan Pelkey each supplying an RBI single.
Bangor closed within 3-2 in the fourth. Brendan Moore walked and Nic Cota singled to right, and although pinch-runner Sam Stanhope was cut down trying to steal third base, Boyce grounded a single to right and Worcester doubled to center to drive home Cota.
Boyce scored on a two-out passed ball.
Bangor tied the game an inning later when Corneil lined a one-out double to left field and scored when Dylan Morris singled to center.
But Estes led off the top of the sixth by popping a triple down the right-field line and scored on a groundout by Andrews to give Motor City back a one-run lead.
In the first game, Brewer (11-9) scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take control against 10-11 Hampden.
Jeremy Bissell had the decisive hit, a bases-loaded, two-out single to right that plated three runs, two on the hit and the third when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
Tyler French singled to left off Hampden starter Dillon Corliss to open the inning, and a two-out walk to Nick Moore and an infield hit by Jordan Carter loaded the bases before Bissell lined the first pitch he saw to the opposite field to rally the Falcons from a 6-5 deficit.
“All of my teammates were saying that if he pitches outside to work it the other way,” said Bissell. “That’s all I’ve been taught, and he threw one outside and I took advantage of that and put it over the first baseman’s head.”
Brewer padded its lead in the eighth as Schuyler Van der Eb and French hit back-to-back one-out singles and Van der Eb scored on a groundout by Tony Bissell.
Righthander Dennis O’Neil earned the pitching victory, scattering nine hits while striking out 11 batters and walking two during a complete-game performance.
“I just wanted to pitch smart and pitch down as my coach tells me to do whether it’s fastball or a curve,” said O’Neil. “I was just going out there and tried to fool them a little bit.”
Jeremy Bissell, Carter and French each singled twice for Brewer while Billy DeRedin added a two-run single.
Spencer Hartsgrove tripled and singled, Matt Palmer and Justin Kasprzak each singled twice and Will Perkins hit a solo home run for Hampden.