BANGOR, Maine — Jordan Clarke was honored in the tent next to Mansfield Stadium on Tuesday morning.
A cake was presented to him in remembrance of his no-hitter in the Senior League World Series seven years ago to the day.
Former Bangor standout Clarke is the only pitcher who has thrown a complete-game no-hitter in the 12 years the Senior League World Series has been held at Mansfield Stadium.
Righthander Clarke no-hit Canadian champ Regina, Saskatchewan, striking out four and walking two while throwing 77 pitches.
“It seems like yesterday although I know time has passed,” said Clarke, who is now a member of the grounds crew at Mansfield Stadium. “I remember it was hot out. There was a full crowd and that helped quite a bit.
“I was nervous in the first inning. I walked a guy. But once I picked him off, I felt fine,” recalled Clarke.
He also recalled that the first hitter, Matthew Strueby, ripped a line drive off him to open the game that was snared by center fielder Ryan Larochelle.
“I thought it was going to be a long day,” said Clarke. “But I settled in. I got a lot of ground balls and all the players made the routine plays.”
He also remembered left fielder Christian Dionne making a nice catch in the left center field gap and second baseman Mack Susi catching a rising liner with one out in the seventh inning.
“And Tyler Brookings made a lot of plays at third base,” said Clarke, who featured a live fastball, a curve and a few changeups.
He said all of his pitches were working that day.
“My fastball was moving and my main thing was keeping them off-balance,” said Clarke, who recently graduated from St. Joseph’s College in Windham.
He began thinking about the no-hitter in the fifth inning.
“I was kind of isolated in the dugout. No one came up to me between innings. I knew something could happen,” said Clarke.
He said he felt the pressure in the seventh inning.
“You could see the crowd and the players were getting into it,” said Clarke. “And then Mack Susi hopped up to catch that line drive. That was one of the biggest plays of the game.”
Clarke went on to star for Bangor High and the Bangor American Legion team but he will never forget Aug. 13, 2006.
“That was an awesome moment for me,” said Clarke, who said that he would like to see another no-hitter someday, “especially if it’s someone from Bangor.”
Clarke likes seeing his former team back in the SLWS for the first time since 2010 and feels the Bangor all-stars have a legitimate shot to reach the semifinals after they won their first two games.
“They have a lot of depth in their pitching staff and that’s what you need in this tournament,” he said.
Bangor manager Barrett Dionne and his players, who didn’t play on Tuesday, said they were pleased to be 2-0 after the first two of their four Pool A games.
But they also know their two toughest games are ahead against 1-1 U.S. Southeast champ Martinez, Ga., at 5 p.m. Wednesday and U.S. West titlist Pearl City, Hawaii at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Pearl City, 2-0, was scheduled to play Makati City, Philippines, 0-1, at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’re exactly where we want to be right now,” said Dionne. “We’re sitting pretty well. We’ll see what happens.”
Dionne and his players don’t feel they have swung the bats as well as they are capable of through their first two games. They had 10 hits in an 8-1 victory over Canadian champ Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on Saturday and six in a 3-1 win over Makati City on Monday.
“We haven’t had our best offensive game yet,” said pitcher-center fielder Trevor DeLaite.
“We haven’t faced any hard throwers like we did in American Legion ball. We’ve seen a lot of off-speed pitches that have kept us off-balance,” said Bangor catcher Sam Huston. “Once we see a hard thrower, I think we’ll get back to our old ways and start ripping the ball.
“Even though we haven’t had a lot of hits, we’ve had timely hits,” added Huston.
But Bangor, the Maine District 3 champ, has received two quality pitching performances from starters Justin Courtney (4 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts) and DeLaite (5 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts).
“If we can keep getting pitching performances like that, that will carry us far in the tournament,” said Huston. “I think we can compete with anyone in the tournament, especially with our pitching.”
Courtney will take the mound on Wednesday and said he learned on Saturday that he needs to be “efficient with your pitches” because of the pitch limits. Pitchers can throw only 95 pitches in a game before they must be relieved.
“You need to get hitters out quickly or else they’ll run you out of the game early,” said Courtney, who features a fastball, curve, change and cutter.
“Once we play Georgia and Hawaii, we’ll see how good we really are,” said Courtney. “They will be a good challenge for us.”