OAKLAND, Maine — Bangor third baseman Kelsey Pendergast felt she hadn’t been hitting well early in Wednesday afternoon’s softball game at Messalonskee High School.
Then she came up in the seventh inning with runners on first and third with one out and her Rams trailing by a run.
“I was pretty nervous,” she said. “It was good it was with one out, so there wasn’t the pressure of two outs.”
Pendergast ripped a two-run single between the first and second basemen, igniting a five-run rally that carried Bangor to a 6-2 victory over the Eagles.
The rally felt good to Pendergast, especially after Lawrence of Fairfield had done the same thing to beat the Rams on Monday
“We wanted to come back against Messalonskee,” said Pendergast.
Pendergast’s hit turned Bangor’s 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. After taking second when the throw to the plate sailed over the catcher’s head, Pendergast ended up scoring on Lilli Wiseman’s bunt single, Eve George came home on a wild pitch and Wiseman scored the final run on Sydni Cosgrove’s single.
“We’ve been hitting the ball hard,” said Bangor coach Don Stanhope. “It’s been a matter of getting the hits strung together.
They did that in the seventh, getting five singles plus two walks and taking advantage of two Messalonskee errors.
Eagles coach Leo Bouchard was not happy with the performance of his team, which came into the game ranked third in the Eastern Maine Class A standings. The Rams were No. 7.
“We didn’t show up until the fifth inning,” said Bouchard. “The girls were lackadaisical. It’s just frustrating.”
The Rams (9-6) opened the scoring on Cosgrove’s RBI double in the third. Eve George walked to start the inning, but was forced at second on Lilli Wiseman’s infield dribbler. Cosgrove drilled the ball to left field to score Wiseman from first, but Cosgrove was caught between second and third and was tagged out as she tried to slide back into second.
The Eagles (11-3) tied it in the fifth on Kylee Knight’s line-drive single to center and pulled ahead in the sixth on Kai Smith’s fielder’s choice.
Bouchard said his team is not a big-hitting team and relies on its defense to halt its opponents. That didn’t happen Wednesday.
“We played very poor defense,” he said. “They made mental mistakes as well as physical errors.”
Bangor starter Skylar Cassum pitched a strong game to earn the win.
“This is one of the games I’ve pitched this year,” admitted Cassum.
It may mark a milestone for her, too, after she has had to turn the ball over to relief pitchers in late innings of some games.
“I’m more confident I can finish a game now,” she said.
“She has a more tenacious attitude,” said Stanhope.
Cassum dictated the pace, too.
“I tried to take my time and relax,” she said.
Cassum has a decent rising fastball, but she tried to vary her pitches more.
“I was working in the changeup a lot today,” she said.
“And she worked the inside corner a lot,” added Stanhope.
The balls Messalonskee did hit were handled well by the Bangor defense.
“The right side made some good plays on hard-hit balls, and that helps pitchers,” said Stanhope.
That hurt the Eagles’ offensive hopes.
“We’re not a team that scores a lot,” said Bouchard, so keeping the Eagles off the bases kept the game close until Bangor could break it open.
“We didn’t have any let-up moments,” said Stanhope.
Cosgrove was the lone repeat hitter for Bangor. Cassum struck out eight, walked three, hit one and allowed five hits.
Knight had two singles for the Eagles. Kassie Michaud, the first of three pitchers, took the loss. The three pitchers, the other two being Jordan Roy and Kirsten Pelletier, combined for two strikeouts and three walks and gave up seven hits.
“Every team lays an egg during the season and ours was today,” said Bouchard, whose team suffered its second straight loss. “Don’s team came ready to play.”