Sparked by four players who started for Bangor High School’s state Class A championship baseball team, Bangor has earned its second straight berth to the Senior League World Series at its Mansfield Stadium.
Last year’s team went 2-2 in pool play in the Senior League World Series, and head coach Barrett Dionne said this team is “just as good if not better than last year’s.”
“The sky is the limit for these guys,” he added.
The team is taking a week off from practice, but that doesn’t mean a break from baseball.
Fifteen of the 16 players are either playing American Legion baseball or for Bangor’s first-year Junior American Legion team.
They won’t play their first Senior League World Series game until noon Sunday, Aug. 10, when they open pool play against the Canadian champions.
It will be the 13th year the tourney has been held in Bangor.
Kyle Stevenson was Bangor High School’s starting shortstop, Johnny Cote was the second baseman and Ryan Brookings was the center fielder. Trevor DeLaite was the team’s No. 2 starting pitcher and playing left field when he wasn’t pitching. He also was a first baseman.
In addition, relief pitcher James Prescott and utility player Ben Crichton were on the team, and catcher Brian Peirce was called up from the junior varsity for the playoffs. Several others played on Bangor’s successful junior varsity team; two played at Bangor’s John Bapst High School, and one played for Orono High School.
Playing on a state championship team, having several players who participated in last year’s Senior League World Series and the fact all but one is playing summer ball should serve them well next month, according to Dionne and assistant coach Ron St. Pierre.
“Because Hampden won the districts in 2012, we didn’t have anyone who had prior Senior League World Series experience going into last year’s tournament,” pointed out St. Pierre. “This year we do.”
“You get better by playing games, and with this long layoff before the World Series, having them playing Legion or Junior Legion ball works out well for us,” said Dionne. “They will be game-ready.
“And having several players with World Series experience is very important. They’ll keep an even keel and will help the young kids,” he added.
“I think this team is comparable to the 2010 team [that reached the championship game in the Senior League World Series]. I’m not sure all the kids have the experience or maturity those kids had. It’s hard to tell,” said St. Pierre, who has been the head coach or assistant for several of the nine Bangor teams that have represented the district in the Senior League World Series.
“I am so proud of the guys,” said Dionne. “They showed the most heart of any team I have ever been a part of.”
Bangor had squandered a four-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning of the first championship round game on Sunday, losing to Bronco of Hampden-Hermon 7-6 in 10 innings. Bronco also overcame a 6-5 deficit with two 10th-inning runs.
In the title game, Bangor used a two-out, three-run rally in the fifth inning to eradicate a 2-1 deficit en route to an 8-2 triumph.
Dionne said last year’s team “relied a lot on pitching. This year, it’s more of a team-type effort.”
Stevenson, third baseman Crichton, first-baseman/pitchers DeLaite and Nick Cowperthwaite, catcher Derek Fournier and Brookings have been the offensive catalysts at the top of the order, and Cote serves as a valuable second leadoff hitter in the nine spot.
DeLaite and Cowperthwaite have been a solid one-two punch on the mound, and Prescott is another important arm, but he has been battling a tender shoulder of late.
Orono High’s Dennis Farnham of Veazie is the left fielder, and he also can pitch. Joey Moore is in right field, and Peirce also can play there.
Tanner Goodine and Jesse Colford are pitchers, Jacob Ireland and Sam Southwick are reserve infielders and Harrison Dieuveuil is a backup first baseman. Southwick and Dieuveuil played at John Bapst.
St. Pierre said the team is “very good defensively. We’re certainly way better than average up the middle.”