BANGOR, Maine — For the third year in a row, Bangor Christian is on its way to the Eastern Maine Class D baseball championship game.
Ben Bragg pitched five innings of shutout ball, allowing one hit and striking out five, to lead the top-seed Patriots to a 10-0 victory over No. 3 Wisdom of St. Agatha at Husson University’s Winkin Complex.
The game was halted by the 10-run rule.
Bangor Christian (17-1) advances to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. EM title game against No. 4 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook (13-3) at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
“He won the state game last year, and we had total confidence,” said Bangor Christian head coach Mike Poulin. “We have had him and my son since fifth grade so I have total confidence in him. No worries, I’m proud and happy for him.
“It feels good, we’re really excited and we’re going to take it one game at a time as usual,” he added.
Ken Van Dine hit a two-run triple, a single, walked once and scored two runs to pace the Patriots offense. Bragg helped himself out at the plate with a sacrifice fly to drive in the first run of the game and a two-RBI single in the second inning.
Seth Pearson scored two runs and hit an RBI single for the Patriots, who scored six runs in the second inning to take a commanding 7-0 lead.
“They jumped on top of us and got some runners on and hit the gaps well,” said Wisdom head coach Nicholas Textor. “All of their hits in the outfield [hit the gaps], they were hitting down the [foul] lines. We had to put in our No. 2 pitcher. In that second inning they hit the gaps and played good ball.”
“Small ball” played a role in Bangor Christian’s victory as well, with Cody Collins scoring from third base when Bragg intentionally initiated a rundown between first and second base in the third inning.
“Basically you can say we are a National League team, we don’t have a lot of power but we’re always doing all the little things by trying to make the other team execute the plays,” Poulin said.
Wisdom also committed three errors, with the first two leading to runs for Bangor Christian in the second inning.
“We hosted them at our place two years ago, and they were a small-ball team,” Textor said. “They are smart and very fundamentally sound. We were working on the same thing but we just never got that guy on first and second to work with it. We had trouble hitting today.”
Wisdom only managed two baserunners in the contest, with Jake Lizotte reaching on a dropped third strike in the first inning and Evan Esancy hitting a single to break up the no-hitter in the fourth inning.
Esancy grounded into a double play to retire Lizotte and himself, then got caught stealing in the fourth. Bragg only faced 15 batters, the minimum number in a five-inning game.
Nate Boynton lead 9-8 Wisdom on the mound with 2⅔ innings pitched, allowing four runs off five hits while walking two. Shane Chamberlain started the game, pitching 1⅓ innings, allowing six runs off five hits while walking two.
Poulin said his team is prepared to play well in the EM championship game.
“They’ve won soccer state championships, and this is just another big game for them in baseball,” Poulin said.
“They are used to a lot of big games so they don’t get up or down, they just stay the same whether it’s the state championship, Eastern Maine’s or just a regular game.”