BANGOR, Maine — Opportunity presented itself for the Bangor all-stars during their third game of pool play at the Senior League World Series on Wednesday night.
A large Mansfield Stadium crowd was on hand to provide support, and the opposing team from Martinez, Ga., committed six errors to provide fuel for an otherwise sluggish offense.
But Georgia pitchers Wilfredo Colon-Rios and Even Krenz proved too resilient for the Maine District 3 representatives, working their way out of several jams and stranding nine Bangor runners on the basepaths in lifting the U.S. Southeast champions to a key 4-2 victory.
“it was pretty intense,” said Colon-Rios, a lefthander who worked the first three innings before giving way to Krenz after throwing 63 pitches. “I saw the big crowd there and I just tried to block them out of my head and make them silent so I could work on my catcher’s mitt.”
Bangor (2-1) plays its final game of Pool A play at 5 p.m. Thursday against 3-0 Pearl City, Hawaii, and with a win still could advance to Friday’s semifinals depending the result of 2-1 Georgia’s 10 a.m. game against Makati City, Philippines, and possible tiebreakers.
“I thought we pitched and played well enough to win,” said Bangor head coach Barrett Dionne. “Unfortunately we didn’t come up with the big, clutch hit and that’s what happens so hopefully we come back [Thursday], rebound and come ready to swing the bats.”
The Georgians never trailed in the contest as Colon-Rios and Krenz combined to limit Bangor to four hits and no earned runs while striking out six batters and walking three.
“Both those guys on fastball counts weren’t afraid to throw the breaking ball, and that threw a lot of our guys off throughout the game,” said Dionne.
Kyle Cartledge and Jesse Ibarra each singled twice to pace Georgia’s 10-hit attack while Colon-Rios singled and walked twice, once with the bases loaded.
Andrew Hillier singled twice for Bangor.
“We were struggling to get baserunners all game long, and when we did we struggled to get them in,” said Hillier.
The Georgians committed three errors in the first two innings alone, but Colon-Rios was able to pitch his team — from a suburb of Augusta, Ga. — out of trouble.
And when Bangor made its first mistake, Georgia capitalized to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third.
Ibarra reached third base with one out when his bunt single was overthrown down the right-field line, and Elliot Melton followed with an RBI single to center.
Rios couldn’t escape a third jam in as many innings.
A walk to Ben Crichton and a single to left-center by Hillier gave Bangor runners on first and second with no one out. Two ground balls produced two fielder’s choice outs, but a third grounder — a slow roller between third base and shortstop by Sam Huston — was misplayed, allowing Hillier to score the tying run.
Georgia regained the lead on an RBI single by Kevin Hyatt in the top of the fourth. Cartledge led off the inning with a single to right and Colon-Rios drew a one-out walk before Cartledge scored the go-ahead run when Hyatt whistled a line drive just past Bangor starter Justin Courtney and into center field.
A bunt single by Ibarra then loaded the bases, but Hillier came on in relief and recorded an inning-ending strikeout to keep Bangor within a run.
But Georgia kept coming offensively, loading the bases with no one out in the fifth on a walk to Isaiah Davila and singles by Krenz and Cartledge. An RBI single to left by Brandon Hensley and a bases-loaded walk to Colon-Rios extended the lead to 4-1 before Bangor shortstop Kyle Stevenson forced Cartledge out at home on a grounder by Luke Wiles and then fielded a grounder up the middle by Hyatt, stepped on second base and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
Bangor loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but Krenz recorded back-to-back strikeouts to preserve Georgia’s three-run lead.
“We would have like to get that big hit with the bases loaded or any other time to get back into the game, but it didn’t happen tonight,” said Courtney.
Bangor did add a run in the sixth when Stevenson reached second on a dropped fly ball and scored when Hillier chopped a two-out single to left to cut the gap to 4-2.
“Maine has got a really good team, a couple of really good pitchers, and we were fortunate to put the ball in play and get a few hits,” said Georgia head coach Mark Brosious. “It wasn’t our best game defensively … but we were able to overcome it.”
In the day’s first game, U.S. Southwest champ Laredo, Texas, held off Europe-Africa champ Emilia, Italy, 5-4 in Pool-B action.
Laredo held on after a four-run second inning highlighted by Jerry Avila’s two-run single.
In the final game, which ended shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday, Latin America champ Herrera, Panama, edged U.S. East champ Kennett Square, Pa., 5-3. Latin America improved to 3-0 while U.S. East finished Pool B play at 3-1.