BANGOR, Maine — Three years ago the Skowhegan baseball team embarked on a youth movement that this spring has left coach Rick York’s club as one of the more experienced clubs in Eastern Maine Class A.
That veteran nature was on display Monday afternoon, as senior righthander Taylor Bacon yielded just five singles in seven innings and the Indians scored four unearned runs on five Bangor errors to earn a 6-3 victory at Mansfield Stadium.
Both teams are now 2-1.
“We’ve had a lot of young guys the last couple of years,” said Skowhegan senior Henry Ametti, a four-year starter at catcher, “but we’ve developed them to be a good group of seniors and juniors.”
Bacon required just 91 pitches during a complete-game pitching effort that included four strikeouts, two walks and a hit batsman as the Indians defeated Bangor for the second time in their last three meetings — an effort that dates back to last spring, when Skowhegan was the only team to defeat the Rams during the 2012 regular season.
“Taylor was all over the plate today,” said York. “He kind of got a raw deal down in Lewiston [an 8-6 loss last Wednesday] and he vowed he was going to come to pitch today. He pitched a gem of a ball game, and they’re a good team. Bangor is going to win some games this year.”
Bacon induced 12 ground-ball outs during the 1-hour, 55-minute contest compared to just two fly balls that reached the outfield.
“We knew we had to keep the ball low, and Henry called the game fantastic,” said Bacon. “We played real well on defense. They hit the ball well but we tracked it down.”
The teams were locked in a 3-3 tie when Skowhegan took the lead for good with a three-run rally in the top of the sixth that was fueled by three Bangor errors, an RBI infield hit by Adam Clukey, a walk to Ametti and a sacrifice by Trevor Hisler.
“We knew defense was going to be a stickler for us, and not playing much in preseason we’re not really any better off now than we were two weeks ago, but we’ll make some changes [Tuesday],” said Bangor coach Jeff Fahey, whose starting shortstop, Carl Farnham, left the game in the second inning with migranes.
“If that means going younger we will. If it means putting guys who are already solid in positions and moving them to where they can be most helpful, we may have to do that.”
Armed with his first lead of the game, Bacon allowed a two-out single by Bangor’s Hunter Boyce in the bottom of the sixth and hit the Rams’ Parker Sanderson with a pitch with one out in the seventh, but a 4-6-3 double play engineered by Hisler and shortstop John Swett ended the game.
“We always try to throw a first-pitch strike just to get on top and then mix it up so they don’t know what’s coming next and try to stay within the zone and stay low so they put the ball into the ground,” said Ametti.
“We’ve got a good defense so we just want teams to put it in play.”
Clukey doubled and singled as part of Skowhegan’s nine-hit attack, while Hisler and Derek McCarty each singled twice and Ametti singled, walked twice, scored twice and drove in a run.
Sam Stanhope singled twice for Bangor, including a bloop two-run hit to left in the second inning that drove home Tyler LaPlante and Bryan Rouleau to give the Rams a 2-0 lead.
Skowhegan tied the game in the third with two runs — one unearned — off Bangor freshman lefthander Trevor DeLaite. Ametti drew a one-out walk, reached third on a single to right-center by Hisler and scored on Chase Nelson’s sacrifice fly to center. A single by Kam Nelson and a hit batter moved Hisler to third, and he scored the tying run on an infield error.
After Tyler LaPlante singled home Anthony Capuano to give Bangor a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third, Skowhegan re-tied the game when Ametti singled home McCarty with one out in the top of the fourth.
But Bangor reliever Andrew Hillier came on to get out of a two-on, one-out jam and used an inning-ending strikeout to strand two more Skowhegan runners in the fifth.
The Rams’ defensive lapses caught up to them an inning later.
“The other thing is we really aren’t hitting the ball that well,” said Fahey. “Today we had as many errors as we had hits and that sixth inning was the Bad News Bears, as bad an inning as I can remember in 13 years.”