AUGUSTA, Maine — The few low moments in the Bangor American Legion baseball team’s summer usually have been traced to the lack of a timely hit.
But that hasn’t been an issue since the Comrades began play in the state tournament, a reality coach Dave Morris’ club displayed again Thursday during a 9-5 winners’ bracket victory over Pastime Club of Lewiston.
Bangor pounded out 12 hits in the contest and now has scored 33 runs in its last 23 innings dating to last Saturday’s 10-0 play-in game victory over Moody’s Collision of Gorham.
“We’ve been taking a lot of cuts in the cage and we’ve been seeing the ball great,” said Bangor outfielder Sam Huston, who had three singles and three RBIs against Pastime. “I know our first six hitters are crushing the ball now and if we keep that up we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Thursday’s win leaves 25-3 Bangor as one of two unbeaten teams left in the state tourney, with the Comrades set to face the winner of Thursday’s late game between Westbrook and Staples Crossing of South Berwick at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Pastime (18-5) will face Windham, an 8-2 winner over Brewer on Thursday, in Friday’s 11 a.m. game, followed at 1 p.m. by a second elimination game between The Red Barn of Augusta and the Westbrook-Staples Crossing loser.
Eight different Bangor hitters had at least one hit, more than enough support for lefthander Curtis Worcester.
Worcester, who pitched an eight-inning shutout in the play-in round, struggled early but finished his seven-inning stint against Pastime allowing just one earned run on eight hits with seven strikeouts and one walk before giving way to reliever Andrew Hillier.
“Sometimes you’re not always going to have your best stuff,” said Morris, “but he found a way to get something done and rely on his defense. He takes a lot on his shoulders, but I’m glad he’s on my team. He’s a heck of a pitcher.”
Pastime jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Luke Cote hit a leadoff triple to right-center and scored on a ground single to right by Alex Small, who then reached second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out infield error.
Bangor countered by sending 11 batters to the plate during a five-run rally in the bottom of the inning.
Consecutive singles by Trevor DeLaite, Carl Farnham and Justin Courtney off Pastime starter Ryan Riordan produced the first run, and a one-out single by Huston drove home the tying run.
Riordan secured his second strikeout of the inning before Hunter Boyce gave Bangor the lead with a two-run double to right. After Sam Stanhope walked, Kyle Stevenson hit an infield single in front of the plate that was thrown away, enabling Boyce to score the Comrades’ fifth run.
“Anytime you can get five runs in that first inning you settle in and can feel a lot more comfortable, so that was huge,” said Morris.
Pastime scored two unearned runs in the top of the second to cut the gap to 5-4, as Gage Cote and Mike Wong each singled and then scored on an infield error.
“It was a rough top of the first and second,” said Worcester. “They were putting the ball in play. My curveball wasn’t there in the first two or three innings and it was kind of tough because they were just sitting on the fastball, but I just tried to stay relaxed and focus on hitting my spots.”
Riordan retired six of the next seven batters he faced until Bangor broke the game open with three runs after two were out in the bottom of the fourth. One-out walks to DeLaite and Farnham got the righthander in trouble, with DeLaite then scoring when Hillier reached on an infield hit off Riordan’s chest and Huston following with a two-run single to center to make it 8-4.
“After Andrew got on I was just thinking to see my pitch and drive it and do what I could do to get the runs in,” said Huston.
Earlier in the day, Windham jumped out to an early 6-0 lead and cruised to victory over Brewer in their elimination game.
Windham (17-7) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and expanded that margin with a run in the bottom of the second, two more runs in the third on a Shawn Francoeur home run, and another run in the fourth.
Brewer (16-10) finally scored in the fifth as Tony Bissell walked and came around to score on a wild pitch by Windham starter Dennis Meehan, but the Falcons left the bases loaded.
Brewer cut the gap to 6-2 an inning later when Bissell singled and scored on a triple by Logan Rogerson.
But Windham answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth and added another insurance run in the eighth.
Francoeur also had an RBI single to finish the game with three RBIs for Windham, while leadoff hitter Calvin Field singled, walked twice, stole three bases and scored three runs, Ethan Petty singled twice with two RBIs and Spencer Hodge also singled twice.
Meehan allowed one run on four hits over five innings on the mound to get the pitching win before getting three innings of relief help from Hodge and a scoreless ninth from Tanner Laberge.
Rogerson tripled and singled for Brewer, while Bissell singled, walked twice and scored two runs.