BANGOR, Maine — What’s been described as the most intense district tournament in all of Senior League baseball was set to commence at Mansfield Stadium late Thursday afternoon.
That’s because the grand prize for winning the five-team, double-elimination Maine District 3 event that continues through Sunday is the chance to compete in next month’s Senior League World Series, the Little League Baseball championship for 14- through 16-year-olds.
The Senior League World Series has been contested at Mansfield Stadium since 2002, with the Maine District 3 champion serving as the host team joined by five American regional winners and four international qualifiers.
But while the other nine entries in the 10-team field must survive numerous qualifying tournaments to earn their tickets to Bangor, the role of host for the Senior League World Series — Aug. 10-16 — comes down to a mere four days of local competition.
District 3 play was scheduled to commence with two games Thursday matching Holbrook against Brewer at 5 p.m. and Old Town against Bronco (Hampden area)-Hermon at 7:30 p.m.
Defending district champion Bangor drew a first-round bye and will play its first tournament game against the Holbrook-Brewer winner at 5 p.m. Friday.
The championship game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday, with an if-necessary game to follow at 7 p.m.
The tournament winner is scheduled to play Canada at noon Sunday, Aug. 10, in the first of 20 games of Senior League World Series pool play contests spanning five days. The top two teams in each of the two five-team pools advance to the semifinals on Friday, Aug. 15, with the winners to meet for the world championship at 2 p.m. Aug. 16 in a game televised live internationally by ESPNU.
Bangor has represented Maine District 3 eight times in the 12 years its winner has advanced to the Senior League World Series. Bangor finished 2-2 in pool play in 2013.
The new District 3 champion crowned Sunday will join the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as the first qualifiers for this year’s Senior League World Series.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands won the Asia Pacific-Middle East regional title last weekend, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit to edge Guam 8-6 in the championship game of the six-nation tournament held at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, Philippines.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands edged Guam 5-4 and also defeated India, Indonesia, New Zealand and the Philippines to finish pool play with a 5-0 record and advance to the championship game. Second-place Guam had gone 4-1 in pool play to reach the final.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a group of 14 islands in political union with the United States located in the North Pacific Ocean about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Senior League All-Stars will be making their fourth appearance in the Senior League World Series since its arrival in Bangor, most recently finishing 0-4 in pool play in 2010. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands went 2-2 in both 2004 and 2007.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will open pool play in this year’s Senior League World Series at 5 p.m. Monday against the Maine District 3 champion.
Maine District 3 and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are joined in Pool A by champions from Canada, U.S. Southeast and U.S. West.
The U.S. Southwest, East and Central champions will be joined by teams from Latin America and Europe-Africa in Pool B.
The eight-nation Europe-Africa tournament is under way in Novara, Italy, while the Latin America championships are scheduled to begin Friday and continue through July 20 in Panama. The remaining six qualifying tourneys crown their winners during the first week of August.
Chitre, Panama, is the defending Senior League World Series champion, edging Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 2-1 in the 2013 title game.
Umpires assigned to World Series duty
Three veteran Maine umpires have been selected to work at various Little League World Series tournaments this year.
Troy Richardson of Brewer will umpire at the Big League (ages 17-18) Baseball World Series scheduled for July 23-30 in Easley, South Carolina.
Edward Perra of Appleton will officiate at the Senior League Softball World Series on Aug. 3-9 in Lower Sussex, Delaware.
And Jamie Erskine of Cape Elizabeth has been named to umpire at the Little League Softball World Series slated for Aug. 7-13 in Portland, Oregon.