May 20, 2018
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Bangor Christian defeats Buckfield to win second straight Class D baseball state crown

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

STANDISH, Maine — The Bangor Christian baseball team capped off an overwhelming postseason with a victory fit for a champion Saturday afternoon.

Senior right-hander Ben Bragg pitched a complete-game four-hitter and the Patriots played flawless defense in defeating Buckfield 4-0 to win their second consecutive Class D state championship at Saint Joseph’s College.

“It’s unreal, it really is,” said Bangor Christian junior center fielder Cody Collins, who contributed three singles and two runs scored to the title-winning effort. “Most schools are fortunate to win one, and we’ve had two in the last two years. It’s really special, an incredible feeling.”

The victory capped off an 18-1 season for coach Mike Poulin’s club, which outscored its four postseason opponents by a combined 41-0 and yielded just seven hits in 23 innings.

“I guess it says we’re just really well-rounded,” said Bangor Christian junior second baseman David Peters after the Patriots defeated Buckfield in the state final for the second straight year. “We’ve got solid defense, we’ve got a really solid pitching staff and it’s a pretty deep team. All around we played pretty well.”

Bragg threw just 78 pitches, 57 for strikes, as he struck out nine batters and walked only one — the first batter he faced in the game — in outdueling Buckfield left-hander Jonah Williams.

“It was a good day,” said Bragg. “The first inning I had a little trouble, but I found the strike zone later on.”

Bragg used both his fastball and curve to great effect.

“I think he pounded the zone,” said Buckfield coach Joe McLaughlin. “He was around the strike zone and kept us off balance. We got a couple of good hits off him, but we just couldn’t string them together.”

Williams fared better than any other pitcher the Patriots faced during postseason play, scattering nine hits while striking out seven batters and walking three.

“I’m looking at it as that’s the best pitcher we’ve seen this year, and we still got nine hits,” said Poulin.

Williams struck out the side in the top of the first but Bangor Christian still took an immediate 2-0 lead. Zac Palmeter lined a leadoff single to center, then somewhat confusingly reached third base one out later on a high chopper back to the mound by Cody Collins.

Palmeter nearly reached second base, then retreated toward first before turning back around and ending up at third when the throw to first base was dropped.

“I was stealing second and I didn’t see the ball hit the ground,” said Palmeter. “I thought the pitcher caught the ball so I started to go back to first and coach said ‘No’ so I went the other way.”

Palmeter scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch, and Collins scored when Bragg lined a hanging curveball down the left-field line for a double.

Buckfield (14-2) was left to play catch-up the rest of the way.

“We had a chance there that could have turned into a double play really easily, and I think that was an unfortunate play, but we made plays in other areas,” said McLaughlin. “I really didn’t feel like it threw us off. I was concerned at first, but we’ve had three or four comeback wins this year.”

Williams scattered four hits over the next four innings but Bragg was even better, retiring 10 in a row — six by strikeout — after issuing a leadoff walk to Tyler Vallee to open the Buckfield first until Williams broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single to left in the bottom of the fourth.

Bangor Christian finally added an insurance run in the top of the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Peters.

Collins blooped a leadoff single just onto the outfield grass beyond second base, advanced to second on a passed ball and was sacrificed to third with two out by Rem Poulin. Tucker Rice then worked Williams for a walk before Peters lined the first pitch he saw sharply into center field to give the Patriots a 3-1 lead.

“I finally got a hit to the right place, and with men on base it was just the right place at the right time with solid contact,” said Peters. “It was a fastball, a little up but I knew it was coming so I just got my hands above the ball.”

Collins’ third hit drove home Seth Pearson with Bangor Christian’s final run in the top of the seventh. Pearson drew a two-out walk and stole second before Collins sharply grounded a 1-2 pitch into center field.

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