BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School baseball team battled through raw, damp conditions and a pesky challenge from Lewiston to open its season with a 7-5 victory over the Blue Devils on Friday at Mansfield Stadium.
The three-time defending Class A state champions had their original opener at Oxford Hills of South Paris postponed Wednesday, leaving the Rams eager to play despite uncertain weather prospects.
“You don’t want to get behind, so having this game today was big for us,” said Morris, who earned his first head coaching victory at his alma mater since replacing the retired Jeff Fahey in the Bangor dugout. “It was raw, it was cold, but our kids did a great job right from the start. It was a good high school baseball game.”
Senior Nick Cowperthwaite paced Bangor’s nine-hit offense with two singles and three RBIs and also earned the pitching save by recording the game’s final out after Lewiston (0-2) scored three runs in the top of the seventh and moved the tying run in scoring position.
His younger brother, sophomore Zach Cowperthwaite, also singled twice with an RBI while junior centerfielder Tyler Parke had two singles, a walk and two RBIs and No. 9 hitter George Payne doubled, walked and scored twice.
“All in all I thought we hit the ball well,” said Morris. “We had good plate presence.”
Senior righthander Gary Farnham, making his first varsity pitching start, yielded just two runs on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks over six innings in outdueling Lewiston’s Evan Cox.
“I felt like I was spotting my fastball pretty good at the beginning and working the changeup in, then I got into those middle innings and walked a couple of guys and just had to battle through it,” said Farnham. “They’re a gritty team, we just had to grind through it.”
Bangor broke on top with three runs in the bottom of the third, with Nick Cowperthwaite delivering an RBI single, Parke drawing a bases-loaded walk and Zach Ireland contributing a sacrifice fly.
Lewiston answered in the top of the fourth, with Ben Chasse stroking a two-run single to left to drive home Hunter Landry and Jared Rubin and cut the deficit to 3-2.
Nick Cowperthwaite struck again for Bangor in the sixth, hitting a two-run single to center that drove home Zach Murray and Payne as the Rams scored four two-out runs.
“I knew we needed a couple more runs just to give us some insurance,” said Cowperthwaite. “(Cox) threw me a curveball first pitch and it was straight down the middle so I just waited on the fastball and put it right up the middle.”
Zach Cowperthwaite then grounded Lewiston reliever Dalton Wing’s first pitch into left-center field for an RBI single, and Parke beat out an infield hit to deliver Nick Cowperthwaite and make it 7-2.
Those runs proved valuable as Lewiston reached Bangor reliever Noah Tappan for three runs in the top of the seventh.
Eddie Turgeon hit a leadoff double down the left-field line and pinch-hitter Elias Atkins walked before an errant throw on a sacrifice by LeBlond enabled Turgeon to score and leave runners on second and third with still no one out.
Atkins scored on a groundout by Wing and LeBlond soon came across on a two-out wild pitch to cut the gap to 7-5.
Landry reached on an error and Rubin drew a four-pitch walk, but when Tappan struck out Beckwith on a curveball in the dirt for the apparent third out Bangor catcher Noah Crichton couldn’t immediately locate the ball, allowing Beckwith to reach first and load the bases.
Nick Cowperthwaite came on in relief with a 1-0 count on Chasse and after falling behind 3-0 battled back to induce a game-ending groundout.
“Any time you’ve got bases loaded and forcing them to bring in their closer you’re doing something right,” said Lewiston coach Will Emerson. “We had a really good chance to win it there, but it’s on to the next one.”