BANGOR, Maine — Less than 24 hours after the final high school baseball state champion has been crowned Saturday, a new American Legion Zone 1 campaign is set to begin.
In what has been a recent tradition, the 18-game regular season for the northernmost zone of American Legion baseball in the state opens Sunday with a tripleheader at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University in Bangor.
Motor City of Bangor will face Hampden at noon, followed by Trenton against Penquis at 4 p.m. and Bangor against Brewer at 7.
The only team in the zone that won’t play Sunday is a new entry from Waldo County, which drew an opening-day bye.
That Waldo County squad, featuring players from Belfast Area High School, Mount View of Thorndike and Searsport High School, represents a return to the Zone 1 ranks of a team from that area. A previous Waldo County-based team known as Steamboat Petroleum left Legion play before the 2011 season due to a lack of players.
The Zone 1 ranks remain at seven teams this summer with Waldo County replacing Lincoln, which dissolved due to low interest and financial considerations, according to Zone 1 commissioner Dave Paul.
Players from the former Lincoln team’s drawing area who attended Stearns High School in Millinocket are eligible to play for the Dover-Foxcroft-based Penquis Navigators, Paul said. Players from the Lincoln drawing area who attended Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Penobscot Valley of Howland, Lee Academy, Schenck of East Millinocket, Katahdin of Stacyville and Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook are eligible to play for Motor City.
Husson University also will be the site of the five-team Zone 1 tournament July 22-26, as well as this year’s American Legion state tournament from Wednesday, July 30, to Sunday, Aug. 3.
The zone tournament begins with a play-in game between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, with the winner advancing to a four-team, double-elimination tournament that begins the next day.
Paul said the zone tournament could conclude with an if-necessary contest at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, the same day two play-in games for the state tournament are scheduled at the Winkin Complex.
Those play-in games begin at 10 a.m. with a battle between the runners-up from Zone 2 (central Maine) and Zone 4 (Portland area), followed at 3 p.m. by a matchup between second-place finishers from Zone 3 (western Maine) and Zone 5 (York County).
The winners of the two play-in games will join each of the five zone champions and the Zone 1 runner-up in the eight-team state tournament. The Zone 1 runner-up gets an automatic berth in this year’s event because its zone is hosting the event.
Brewer is the defending Zone 1 tournament champion, while runner-up Bangor — the regular-season champion — won its state tournament play-in game last year and went on to a third-place finish.
The Windham Merchants are reigning state champions.