TOPSHAM, Maine — Justin Courtney arrived at Mount Ararat School last Friday in an upbeat frame of mind.
“As soon as I got off the bus, I felt like it was going to be a good day for baseball,” he recalled.
Not only did the afternoon get even better for the junior pitcher from Bangor High School, it ultimately became perfect.
The right-hander retired all 15 batters he faced during a five-inning perfect game as the Rams defeated Mount Ararat 10-0 in a contest shortened by the 10-run rule.
“Justin had really good pop on his fastball, in the fourth and fifth innings he was probably throwing in the low- to mid-80s,” said Bangor coach Jeff Fahey. “His curveball also was very good, and they were kind of free swingers, which helped. I don’t think he had hardly any two- and three-ball counts.
“He was overpowering, really,” Fahey said.
Courtney struck out 12 batters and induced three ground-ball outs, all to senior second baseman Bryan Rouleau.
“Once I started to warm up and got going, I knew it could be something special, and I felt more confident as the game went along,” said Courtney, who estimated his pitch count for the game in the 50s.
Bangor provided Courtney plenty of offensive support, scoring five runs in the first inning and five more runs in the top of the third.
“Once we put some runs on the board and jumped out to that early lead, it became pretty clear from that point it was about shutting them down the rest of the way,” said Courtney. “The offense had taken care of its side of it and now it was all about getting outs.”
Courtney struck out the Eagles in order in both the fourth and fifth innings.
“By the fourth and fifth innings, I had gone through the order one time and had pretty much blown everybody away,” he said. “They weren’t getting good swings on me, and at that point I thought I could do it.”
This was not Courtney’s first bout of pitching perfection, having accomplished a similar feat during his first start in the Maine District 3 Little League 9-10 tournament a few years back while leading Bangor East to a victory over Millinocket.
“It was my first ever all-star game, and it was at Hampden,” Courtney recalled. “What I remember about that game was James Dean making a diving catch in right field to save it.”
Courtney’s high school gem was the second perfect game and third no-hitter in for Bangor in the last two seasons. Curtis Worcester pitched a six-inning perfect game during the Rams’ 10-0 victory over Skowhegan last May 23, eight days after Greg Duff no-hit Hampden Academy over seven innings in a 3-0 victory.
Courtney, now 4-0 this spring, is slated to get his next start Wednesday afternoon at defending Class A state champion Messalonskee of Oakland. Bangor currently is 10-4 and ranked third in Eastern Maine Class A, while 10-3 Messalonskee is ranked fourth.