BANGOR, Maine — Bangor Christian’s third straight trip to the Eastern Maine Class D baseball championship game was by far its most impressive.
The Patriots combined the one-hit pitching of Cody Collins and David Peters with an 18-hit offense to overwhelm Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook 17-0 and win its second straight regional title at Mansfield Stadium on Thursday evening.
“Everybody played good today,” said Rem Poulin, the Patriots’ senior catcher. “We got our bats going, our pitching was good, our defense was still pretty good and we just pulled it out.”
The defending state champions, now 18-1, will play Buckfield for the state crown Saturday at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.
Southern Aroostook, which also fell to Bangor Christian 8-3 in last year’s EM final, ends its season with a 13-4 record.
“We just didn’t make the plays in the beginning of the game and that put us in a hole a little bit,” said Southern Aroostook coach David Day. “They’re a great team. There’s a reason they’re back here three years in a row.”
All nine Bangor Christian starters had at least one hit in the game, with Collins leading the way offensively with a double, two singles and four RBIs. Seven of his teammates added two hits apiece, including Ben Bragg and Tucker Rice, who each had three RBIs.
“It was amazing. I know we have good hitters and we practice every day and we work on the fundamentals of how to hit, and it’s finally starting to pay off,” said Bangor Christian coach Mike Poulin. “Today the hitting finally came for everybody on the same day.”
And while the Patriots offense reached new heights this postseason, the team’s overall performance was fairly typical of its playoff effort to date — Bangor Christian outscored its three Eastern D tournament foes by a combined 37-0 and yielded just three hits — two of the infield variety — in 16 innings.
Collins and Peters continued that pitching dominance, combining to record 13 of their 15 outs by strikeout while allowing just three baserunners.
The hard-throwing Collins struck out seven while working the first three innings before Peters used a sharp-breaking curve as a primary weapon while striking out the final six batters he faced after yielding a walk to Will McGary and an infield single to Parker Walker to open the Southern Aroostook fourth.
“We haven’t seen a pitcher like that all year,” said Day of Collins, who was coming off a six-inning one-hitter in Bangor Christian’s quarterfinal victory over Woodland. “We’ve seen some decent pitching, but nothing like that.”
Bangor Christian wasted no time in assuming control, combining four hits, three stolen bases and two Southern Aroostook errors to take a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Seth Pearson drew a one-out walk, stole second base and scored on Collins’ single to left.
Collins was picked off between first and second bases by Southern Aroostook starter Trent Cullinan for the second out, but the Patriots were just getting started.
Bragg singled to center, stole second base and scored on Rem Poulin’s pop single to left to make it 2-0. Then Poulin stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored as Rice reached second on an infield error.
Peters followed with a single to center to drive home Rice with the final run of the uprising.
The Patriots added five runs in the second inning, with Peters hitting an RBI double and Pearson, Collins and Rice each singling home a run.
BC then sent 11 batters to the plate during an eight-run third inning, with a two-run double by Collins, an RBI double by Ken Van Dine and two-run singles by Bragg and Rice highlighting that rally.
“Our offense went out and got the job done,” said Collins. “We exploded in a big way.”