BANGOR, Maine — Top-ranked Bangor picked up where it left off at the end of the American Legion baseball regular season Thursday night, rolling to an 11-2 victory over Motor City in the opening round of the Zone 1 tournament at the Winkin Complex.
The Comrades got dominant pitching from Justin Courtney and Andrew Hillier to go with a 12-hit offense that featured inside-the-park home runs from Sam Huston and Ryan Brookings — both in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Coach Dave Morris’ club (17-2) advances to a winners’ bracket game at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 3 Brewer. The Falcons (14-5) earlier in the day finished off an 11-2 win over No. 2 Trenton that had been suspended due to inclement weather after 6½ innings Wednesday.
Trenton (13-6) and Motor City (8-12) will square off in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Friday.
Courtney celebrated his 18th birthday by yielding one earned run on three hits with 14 strikeouts over eight innings before Hillier struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.
Early in the contest Courtney used a sharp breaking curveball as his strikeout pitch, and later in the game he often turned to his fastball and changeup to achieve the same results.
The University of Maine-bound righthander held Motor City hitless until Parker Walker grounded an RBI single up the middle with two outs in the top of the fifth.
By that time Bangor had built a 5-0 lead thanks to Huston’s two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the first and a three-run uprising after loading the bases with no one out in the second.
Motor City scored its second run in the top of the sixth to pull within 5-2, but Bangor answered with three runs in the sixth and three more runs in the seventh to pull away.
That seventh-inning rally began when Huston hit a one-out line drive just out of the reach of diving Motor City center fielder Joe Deschaine. The ball bounced on the artificial surface to the fence 400 feet from home plate. and Huston was able to score standing up for what fans thought was a rare inside-the-park homer.
It turned out to be not so rare.
After Hunter Boyce reached on an error and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Ben Crichton, Brookings lined an 0-2 pitch over the head of Motor City right fielder Shawn Curran and just kept running, and while the throw home was in time he eluded the tag and reached back to touch home plate for the second inside-the-park home run within four batters.
Huston and Crichton each came up just a double short of hitting for the cycle, with Huston driving home three runs and Brookings producing two RBIs and three runs scored.
Shortstop Kyle Stevenson also had three hits and two RBIs for Bangor while Crichton singled twice with an RBI and Ryan Gagne added an RBI with an infield groundout.
Motor City starting pitcher Tyler Neville had an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to drive home Jackson Coutts, who opened the inning with his team’s other hit, a single to center.
Earlier in the day Brewer used a five-run rally in the top of the eighth inning to cement its first-round victory over Trenton.
Brewer led 6-1 when play resumed in the bottom of the seventh, and Trenton immediately scored a run to close to within 6-2 before the Falcons put the game away.
Jeff Weeks and Brendan Moore each had four hits in the game for coach Darrell Pluard’s Brewer club, while Matt Pushard doubled twice and winning pitcher Kyle Alexander added a triple.
Alexander pitched the first seven innings for Brewer on Wednesday before the game was suspended. Pushard allowed one run over the final three innings Thursday.
MC 000 011 000 — 2 3 3
Bangor 230 003 30x — 11 12 1
Neville, Farnham (5), Jurgevich (8) and Young; Courtney, Hillier (9) and Boyce