BANGOR, Maine — The Brewer Falcons erupted for six runs after two were out in the top of the sixth inning and went on to win the American Legion Zone 1 baseball championship Thursday with a 10-3 victory over top-seeded Bangor at Husson University.
Brewer (16-8) finished undefeated in three zone tournament games and will advance directly to the state tourney that begins next Wednesday in Augusta.
The third-seeded Falcons open that double-elimination event in a 4 p.m. game against Zone 5 (York County) runner-up Staples Crossing of South Berwick and Marshwood High School.
“It just goes to show that this is a team with a bunch of heart,” said Brewer catcher Nick Moore of his team’s run through the Zone 1 tourney, which began with a come-from-behind victory over second-seeded Hampden and was followed by two wins over a Bangor team that lost just once — to the Falcons — in 21 regular-season contests.
“There’s a bunch of kids here who came into this program that wanted this, they didn’t come just to spend some time here for the summer. They wanted to come here to prove a point that the kids from Brewer and Bucksport are good, and we proved that point, but we’re not done.”
Bangor (22-3) will face Zone 4 (Portland area) runner-up Moody’s Collision Centers of Gorham in a 3 p.m. play-in game at Augusta on Saturday, with the winner moving on to the state tournament.
Carter DeRedin earned the Zone 1-clinching pitching win for Brewer, yielding just four hits while striking out six batters and walking two in 6⅔ innings.
The right-hander, who will be a junior at Bucksport High School this fall, retired the final 14 batters he faced before leaving the game after throwing 99 pitches, 61 for strikes.
“He just settled in and started going for those corners with the cutter he’s been working on,” said Brewer coach Darrell Pluard. “When he’s got the curveball and the fastball and the cutter going he’s very effective, and his release is very deceptive and that helps his speed.”
But Bangor still took a 3-2 lead into the sixth, and Comrades’ reliever Jordan Treadwell then retired the first two batters he faced in that inning before Chase Allen walked and Kyle Alexander and Jeff Weeks each singled to load the bases for Moore, Brewer’s cleanup hitter.
Moore fell behind in the count, then worked it full after taking a 2-2 curveball that Bangor players and fans thought caught the strike zone.
With the runners going on the next pitch, Moore pulled a single to right field to drive home Allen, Alexander and Weeks and give Brewer a sudden, stunning 5-3 lead.
“I can understand where Bangor was coming from there because that [2-2] pitch was close,” said Moore. “I’m not going to say if it was a ball or a strike, that’s not my position. I just knew a fastball was coming on the next pitch, because it was either going to be a ball or a hit, and fortunately I just put the the bat on the ball and it rode out and it was the best feeling ever. It was awesome.”
Logan Rogerson soon followed with an RBI double before Matt Morrow capped off the uprising with a two-run single to center that gave the Falcons a five-run cushion.
DeRedin and relievers Brendan Moore and Alexander made that lead stand up, with Moore and Alexander combining for 2⅓ innings of one-hit relief.
Nick Moore and Tony Bissell each added an RBI single in the top of the ninth to account for Brewer’s final runs.
Allen paced Brewer’s 17-hit offense with a triple and three singles from the leadoff spot in the order while Rogerson doubled and singled twice, Nick Moore had three singles with four RBIs, Alexander also had three singles and Morrow singled twice with two RBIs.
“We had to battle,” said Allen, “but basically our hitting has carried us and we’ve played really good defense.”
Bangor jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second as Hunter Boyce singled home a run and Trevor DeLaite delivered a two-out, two-run double to the right-center field gap.
But DeRedin quickly regrouped and did not allow another baserunner before giving way to Moore with two outs in the sixth inning.
“I got a little wild in the second inning and just had to leave it to my fielders,” said DeRedin. “We had hardly any errors during the tournament, so once I started letting them hit the ball the defense made the plays.
“I was trying too hard in the second inning to strike them out myself when I had a team behind me that can make all the plays.”
Brewer, held scoreless by Bangor starter Andrew Hillier through three innings despite having five hits during that span, finally broke through against the right-hander in the top of the fourth.
Back-to-back singles by Rogerson and Morrow opened the inning, and Rogerson scored from third when Morrow was hit by a throw while trying to steal second and the ball caromed into left field.
Allen followed with a two-out triple to left to drive home Morrow and cut the Brewer deficit to 3-2.