AUGUSTA, Maine — A fast start propelled Bangor to victory while a slow start fated Brewer to defeat Wednesday in the opening round of the state American Legion baseball tournament.
Bangor scored five runs in the top of the first inning en route to a 14-0, seven-inning victory over Fayette-Staples of Saco, while Staples Crossing of South Berwick scored twice in the first inning and five runs in the second as the catalyst for a 10-3 win over Brewer.
“We didn’t even have time to blink, those kids put the ball in play and hit it hard,” said Brewer coach Darrell Pluard. “They hit some ropes and they hit some balls we probably should have made plays on, but before you knew it, it was 7-zip.”
Both Brewer and Bangor are back in action Thursday, with 16-9 Brewer in an 11 a.m. elimination game against Windham, an 8-7 loser to Westbrook on Wednesday, while 24-3 Bangor has a 2 p.m. winners’ bracket game against Pastime Club of Lewiston, a 3-1 winner over The Red Barn of Augusta.
Other games Thursday match Fayette-Staples against The Red Barn at 10 a.m. and Westbrook against Staples Crossing at 4 p.m.
Jake Lebel homered and singled with three RBIs offensively for 17-3 Staples Crossing in its win over Brewer, while Noah McDaniel added three singles and two RBIs to the winners’ 13-hit attack in support of righthander Robert Jones, who allowed two runs on eight hits over seven innings.
“I feel like the whole season we’ve been able to jump out to leads early,” said Jones, a recent graduate of Marshwood High School. “For all of our pitchers that gives us a definite upper hand, and when I’m out on the mound with the lead my mentality is to let them put the ball in play because I know the defense is going to make the plays.”
Matt Morrow doubled and singled and Tony Bissell singled twice for Brewer while Carter DeRedin had an RBI double.
Staples Crossing, the Zone 5 (York County) runner-up, took an immediate 2-0 lead in the top of the first against Brewer starter Jeff Weeks.
Zach Quintal hit a one-out double to deep center, then advanced to third on Max McCoomb’s ground single through the shortstop hole.
Quintal stole home when McCoomb got himself caught in a rundown between first and second bases, with McCoomb advancing second on the throw home.
McDaniel then drew an 11-pitch walk with two outs before Lebel lined an RBI double down the left-field line to give the Zone 5 runners-up a two-run lead.
Staples Crossing then took command with five runs in the top of the second, aided by a pair of Brewer errors.
Zone 1 champion Brewer seemingly caught a break when Jones followed a leadoff walk to Tyler Pratt with a blast to the right-center field gap, only to be limited to a single when he slipped rounding first base.
But Alex McLean followed with an RBI single to left, and McCoomb blooped a one-out opposite-field single to right to make it 4-0.
McLean scored from third when a fielder’s choice grounder by Matt Brenner was thrown away, and McDaniel hit a sacrifice fly to drive home McCoomb before Brenner scored the final run of the uprising when Lebel reached on an infield error.
Weeks then settled in, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced through five innings, and the Falcons finally broke through offensively against Jones for two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Chase Allen popped a leadoff single to left and scored when Brendan Moore ripped a one-out double down the right-field line.
Moore advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Nick Moore’s single to center to pull Brewer within 7-2.
Staples Crossing got one of those runs back in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by McDaniel, and Lebel ripped a two-run homer to left in the top of the eighth to stretched the Staples Crossing lead to 10-2.
“I just got a first-pitch fastball right down the middle and pulled it,” said Lebel, who had a sixth-inning blast with the bases loaded tracked down in front of the fence by Brewer center fielder Kyle Alexander. “I put a good swing on it and it went over.”
Earlier in the day, Justin Courtney allowed no runs on two hits in five innings on the mound and added a 4-for-5 day at the plate with a home run and three RBIs to lead Bangor to its victory over Fayette-Staples of Saco.
The win was the second straight in state tournament play for Bangor that was both a shutout and ended early under the 10-run rule. Bangor defeated Moody’s Collision of Gorham 10-0 in eight innings in Saturday’s play-in round to advance to the eight-team, double-elimination phase of the event.
Courtney, a righthander who will be a senior at Bangor High School in the fall, struck out nine batters — including two each in four of the five innings he worked — and walked three before giving way to Trevor DeLaite and Andrew Hillier, who each worked a scoreless inning of relief.
Catcher Hunter Boyce added three singles and two RBIs to Bangor’s 15-hit attack, while Carl Farnham also had three singles and Curtis Worcester singled twice with two RBIs.
The Comrades took immediate control of the contest with five runs in the top of the first inning, as Boyce had an RBI single and Farnham and Courtney each singled to go with three walks issued by Staples Crossing pitchers.
Sam Stanhope also sacrificed home a run in the Bangor first.
Coach Dave Morris’ club added two more runs in the second before breaking the game open with a second five-run rally in the fourth inning that included RBI singles by Worcester and Boyce.
Courtney capped off the scoring with a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning.