BANGOR — Hampden came a huge step closer to earning its first-ever berth to the Senior League World Series on Tuesday night.
Hampden parlayed clutch hits and shoddy Bangor defense into an 8-0 lead and held on to post an 8-5 victory in their winners bracket game at the District 3 Senior League All-Star Tournament at Mansfield Stadium.
Matt Palmer, Michael Ward and Cody Lyons combined to scatter seven hits for the winners.
Hampden, which is now 3-0, advances to Thursday night’s 5:30 championship round, needing one win to advance to the Senior League World Series, which gets under way Sunday.
Bangor, which committed five errors, is now 1-1 and will face 3-1 Holbrook in Wednesday’s 5:30 p.m. elimination game. Holbrook eliminated Sebasticook in Tuesday’s first game 6-1.
“I had my fastball working tonight. I threw only two curves,” said Palmer, who allowed four hits and two runs over four innings before his back stiffened up on him.
He struck out five and walked one.
He threw 38 strikes among his 62 pitches.
He also aided his own cause with a pair of singles and an RBI in Hampden’s 10-hit attack.
“He had good pop on his fastball,” said Bangor shortstop Hunter Boyce, who had a pair of singles.
“The key was jumping on them early,” said Hampden coach Basil Closson, whose team scored three runs in the second, two in the third and three more in the fourth.
“We made things happen. We were aggressive on the basepaths,” added Closson.
“We came to hit tonight,” said Hampden designated hitter James Gilmore, who had a double and a single and drove in a run.
“And when we weren’t getting hits, we played small ball,” said right fielder-third baseman Cody Varney, who singled twice and knocked in a run.
Hampden’s second-inning rally was triggered by a leadoff walk to Matt Martin.
Ward put down a sacrifice bunt that was bobbled for an error.
Lyons’ attempted sacrifice bunt was thrown away, allowing Martin to score.
Andrew Elston slapped a high bounding ball over third baseman Nic Ashey’s head for an RBI single and Varney ripped a line drive single into left to score Lyons.
Palmer started the third-inning rally with a crisp single to center and moved to second on a throwing error as he tried to scurry back to the first base bag.
Martin scored him with a ground ball single to right and that chased Bangor starter Justin Courtney in favor of Andrew Hillier.
Gilmore lofted a double into left center with two outs and Martin scored on a two-out infield error.
Hampden reached two more relievers for three runs in the fourth as Varney singled and raced to third on an errant pickoff throw.
Tristan Gardner walked and Palmer singled home Varney.
Two outs later, Lyons and Gilmore each delivered run-scoring singles.
Bangor scored twice in the fourth on Boyce’s base hit; Brendan Moore’s ringing RBI double down the left-field line and Sam Huston’s run-scoring infield single.
Bangor reached Ward for two runs in the fifth on Reed Brooking’s single, Jordan Derrah’s base hit, a two-out walk and consecutive bases-loaded hit batsmen.
But Ward induced a fly ball to get out of the inning.
In the seventh, Lyons retired the first two hitters he faced before a hit batsman, a walk and Huston’s base hit produced the fifth run. However, on Huston’s hit, a Bangor base-runner made an ill-advised dash for third and was gunned down by plenty to end the game.
“It would have been a different game without the five errors,” said Boyce.
“The kids just tightened up,” said Bangor coach Ron St. Pierre. “They rushed it [on the bunts].”
St. Pierre added that he feels his team is capable of bouncing back.
Hampden only made one error and turned in a series of defensive gems.
In the opener, Chase Allen, Seth Pearson, David Peters and Ryan Gagne combined on a three-hitter, striking out eight and walking two, and Allen paced a nine-hit attack with two singles and three RBIs.
Jon Collins doubled and singled for Holbrook.
Connor Hutchins, Jake Winslow and Tyler Knight singled for 1-2 Sebasticook.