The Bangor Coffee News Comrades erupted for nine runs during the top of the first inning and rolled to a 15-4 victory over Franklin County, Vermont, on Wednesday in the opening game of the American Legion Northeast Regional Baseball Tournament at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The game ended after seven innings under the 10-run rule.

“Getting the first game in any tournament is obviously a big step,” said Bangor Coffee News coach Dave Morris, whose team is now 19-6 this summer. “If you don’t get that first one then you tend to struggle. We just feel good about what we’ve done and are happy to keep going another day.”

Ethan Stoddard paced the Maine champions to victory with a home run, triple, double, three runs scored and four RBIs.

The state’s Zone 1 player of the year and recent graduate of Old Town High School did all of his offensive damage during the first four innings before being pulled from the game in anticipation of being the starting pitcher at 4:30 p.m. Thursday when the Comrades face the winner of Wednesday’s later game between Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and Braintree, Massachusetts.

Tyler Parke, Zach Cowperthwaite and Zach Ireland added two hits apiece for Bangor Coffee News, which is making its third appearance at the Northeast regional in the last four years. Ryan Brookings had a three-run triple and Ben Crichton contributed two RBIs to the Comrades’ 15-hit attack.

That offensive onslaught was more than enough support for Bangor Coffee News right-hander Gary Farnham, who pitched a complete-game five-hitter. The recent Bangor High School graduate struck out four batters, walked two and allowed just one earned run.

Farnham’s only difficult inning came in the fourth when Franklin County, Vermont — making its first appearance in an American Legion regional tournament since 1934 — combined three hits and two of Bangor Coffee News’ five errors in the game to score all of its runs.

That rally cut the Comrades’ lead to 14-4.

“Gary pitched a tremendous game,” said Morris.

Parke opened the Bangor first with a single to right and scored the game’s first run as Stoddard doubled to left and advanced to third on an outfield error.

Cowperthwaite followed with an RBI single, then Noah Missbrenner was hit by a Jake Hakey pitch and Austin Sheehan walked to load the bases.

Ireland singled to left to drive home Cowperthwaite and make it 3-0, though Sheehan was thrown out at home on the play.

Jesse Colford singled to re-load the bases before Crichton walked to force home Missbrenner.

Brookings then cleared the bases with his three-run double to left field that extended the Comrades’ lead to 7-0.

Stoddard capped off the uprising one out later with a two-run homer — the team’s seventh hit among its first 11 batters — to left off Vermont reliever Richard Walker.

“They were a young club, but it’s nice when you score nine runs in the first inning,” said Morris. “We were fortunate to get those runs but we earned them. We were really aggressive and attacked the ball.”

Bangor Coffee News stretched its lead to 10-0 in the top of the second. Missbrenner reached on an error, Sheehan walked and Ireland singled to load the bases before Colford followed with an RBI single to right.

The bases remained loaded, but Walker retired the next three batters to escape further harm.

The Comrades kept attacking offensively, with Cowperthwaite and Missbrenner hitting back-to-back singles with one out in the third and Cowperthwaite scoring on Sheehan’s sacrifice fly to left to make it 11-0.

Stoddard cracked a two-run triple down the left-field line to highlight a three-run fourth-inning for Bangor Coffee News. That blast scored Crichton, who had hit a one-out double, and Parke, who drew a two-out walk.

Stoddard soon scored as Cowperthwaite reached on an error as the Comrades’ cushion grew to 14-0.

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...