BANGOR, Maine — Twenty-four hours after committing six errors in a game, the Bangor High School baseball team put its gloves and throwing arms to much more efficient use Tuesday afternoon.
The Rams backed junior right-hander Andrew Hiller’s five-hit pitching with flawless defense to secure a 3-2 Class A win over Edward Little of Auburn at Mansfield Stadium.
“We were more relaxed and focused,” said Bangor senior catcher and co-captain Hunter Boyce of the defensive contrast between Bangor’s fifth consecutive victory and its error-prone 5-4 survival of Lewiston on Monday.
Both teams were coming to the end of a busy stretch of their schedules, with Edward Little playing its third game in four days and Bangor its third game in five days.
And both teams were hot — Edward Little was riding a three-game win streak sparked by a pitching staff that had allowed just two total runs during those victories while Bangor featured a .362 team batting average in its first five games.
And while their only meeting of the spring was more in line with Edward Little’s early success formula, Bangor had the slightly better pitching and defense, with two of the Rams’ three runs unearned.
“About the third inning, I told the kids that this was like a playoff game, and that whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins the one- and two-run games,” said Bangor coach Jeff Fahey. “We didn’t hit the ball the way we have been, but we played better defense and got solid pitching, and those are the types of games we’re going to have down the stretch for sure.”
Hillier (2-0) struck out four batters and walked one during an 82-pitch effort, with 58 of his offerings going for strikes.
“I wanted to pound the strike zone early,” he said. “Because with first-pitch strikes you really decrease the batter’s chances of getting a hit, and I wanted to limit baserunners.”
Hillier outdueled Edward Little right-hander Mike Hammond, who yielded one earned run on six hits in six innings with one strikeout and three walks, one intentional. He threw 75 pitches, 48 for strikes.
A two-out single by Edward Little cleanup batter Nate Pushard drove home Drew Lashua to forge a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth inning, but Boyce turned a near squander by Bangor into a game-winning rally in the bottom of the inning.
Hillier hit a leadoff single to left and advanced to second when Justin Courtney singled to right.
Bangor (5-1) tried to advance the runners by the bunt, but Sam Huston’s attempt was popped up and Edward Little catcher Brandon Varney quickly jumped out in front of the plate to make the catch and throw to first base for a double play.
Bangor designated hitter Brendan Moore, who had singled twice with an RBI in his first two plate appearances, was issued an intentional walk before Boyce grounded a 1-1 pitch to left to drive home the go-ahead run.
“[Hammond] came with two curveballs in a row, and I thought he was coming with a fastball next, so I got my hands around it and slapped it through the hole,” said Boyce.
Hillier worked a 1-2-3 seventh for his first complete game of the spring.
“I started gaining strength later in the game,” he said. “It was kind of weird.”
Edward Little (3-3) took a 1-0 lead in the first when Lew Jensen singled to center with two out and scored when Pushard (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) doubled to deep right.
Bangor tied the game in the second when Courtney reached on an error, was sacrificed to second by Huston and scored on Moore’s opposite-field single to right.
Huston reached on a one-out infield error in the Bangor fourth, went to third on Moore’s hit-and-run single to left and scored as Boyce grounded out to shortstop to give the Rams their first lead.