BANGOR, Maine — Moments after an error-filled loss Monday, the Bangor High School baseball team held a brief players-only meeting beneath the Mansfield Stadium grandstand.
The results of that conversation, as well as a few lineup changes, provided the Rams a fresh approach to Wednesday’s game against rival Brewer — and it led to a much more satisfying outcome.
Right-handers Greg Duff and Bryan Rouleau combined on a three-hitter and Anthony Capuano’s second-chance, two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning propelled Bangor to a 4-1 victory over the Witches and perhaps just as important provided coach Jeff Fahey’s club a dose of much-needed confidence.
“We needed to focus on the fundamentals of the game, take one pitch at a time and really focus on our main goal,” said Capuano. “Today we only had one error, it was a huge improvement from the other day, and you could tell the focus level had increased a lot.”
The Rams’ lone miscue yielded Brewer’s only run, but it was Bangor that capitalized on four Brewer errors to manufacture four unearned runs of its own.
“For us it’s a tough loss, for sure, but we’ll regroup,” said Brewer coach Dana Corey. “Four errors is a lot, but they were spread out, and we’ll get better.”
Duff allowed three hits and no earned runs with eight strikeouts and two walks in 5 2/3 innings to pick up his second win of the spring before giving way to Rouleau, who earned his first save with 1 1/3 innings of hitless relief.
“The first five innings that Greg threw might have been the best I’ve ever seen him throw,” said Fahey.
Those pitchers also benefitted from a new-look Bangor lineup that included freshman Kyle Stevenson at shortstop with Carl Farnham at third base, Parker Sanderson shifting to center field, Tyler LaPlante moving to right and Sam Huston installed in left field.
The Rams were errorless through five innings, and Stevenson and second baseman Sam Stanhope then turned a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the sixth — a defensive effort far different than two days earlier when Bangor committed five errors during a 6-3 loss to Skowhegan.
“It’s really easy when you have a defense playing great behind you,” said Duff. “They made some great plays, especially Kyle Stevenson stepping up as a freshman was huge. We really needed that after Monday.”
Duff and Rouleau needed to be at their best to overcome a solid performance by Brewer starter Jeff Weeks, who allowed three hits and no earned runs while striking out four and walking two in five innings.
“I thought Jeff pitched a heck of a game,” said Corey. “He fought through some adversity and worked his way out of some tough spots.
Bangor (3-1) broke a scoreless tie in the fourth. LaPlante hit an infield single off Weeks’ glove and advanced to second after a throwing error on the play. He came around to score on two wild pitches.
The Rams broke open the 1-hour, 39-minute contest an inning later.
Stevenson and Farnham each drew a one-out walk, and Sanderson reached on an infield error to load the bases.
Up came Capuano, the University of Maine-bound first baseman back at Bangor for his senior season after spending the 2011-2012 school year attending prep school in Connecticut.
The left-handed-hitting Capuano popped up the first pitch he saw into foul territory along the third-base line, but the ball was dropped and his at-bat was still alive.
Capuano lined the next pitch into right field for a two-run single, and Sanderson came around to score a third run to make it 4-0 when Capuano drew a throw while advancing to second base on the play.
“It was a curveball, the same one he threw me in the first inning, so I was looking for it again,” said Capuano. “I picked it up right out of his hand and was able to drive it and score those runs.”
Brewer (2-1) scored its lone run after two were out in the sixth. Chase Allen singled to right and reached third on two wild pitches, then Weeks walked before Rouleau replaced Duff, and Allen subsequently came home on an infield error.
Rouleau retired Brewer in order in the top of the seventh.