STANDISH, Maine — The streak continues.
The Bangor High School baseball team, which has relied largely on pitching and defense for its success throughout this spring, erupted for 16 hits Saturday to defeat Gorham 10-6 in the Class A state championship game at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College.
The Rams became the first high school baseball team in state history to capture five consecutive state titles and finished their season with a 19-1 record.
Bangor now has 20 consecutive postseason victories, having not lost a tournament game since 2013.
“I can’t believe we’ve done this,” Bangor senior shortstop Zach Ireland said. “It just takes focus, and I think one thing a lot of people overlook is that this is such a team game. People can say baseball is very individual, but let me tell you something. If we didn’t have all 17 guys we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
That power in numbers was reflected in Bangor’s offense.
Each of the Rams’ batters had at least one hit in the game against four Gorham pitchers, with Ireland and sophomore outfielder Jacob Munroe each contributing three hits.
“They were relentless,” said Gorham coach Chuck Nadeau, a 1987 Bangor High graduate and teammate of Bangor coach Dave Morris on the Rams’ undefeated 1985 state championship team.
“They tested our pitching depth. Up and down their lineup one through nine I thought they had guys capable of getting big hits and it showed,” Nadeau said.
Nick Canarr, Carson Prouty, Munroe and freshman James Neal, the Nos. 6-7-8-9 batters in the Bangor order, combined to go 7-for-13 at the plate with four runs scored, five RBIs and three sacrifice bunts.
“The bottom of the order, we focus on making plays to get the top of the order back up,” Munroe said. “We make the contact, then they make the contact and it keeps going and going.”
That offense complemented the pitching of junior right-hander Zach Cowperthwaite and Prouty, who combined to shut out Gorham over the final four innings after the South champions had rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead.
Cowperthwaite, who threw 84 pitches in a complete-game victory over Oxford Hills of South Paris in the A North final, worked into the fifth inning on three days’ rest to improve his record to 8-1 before giving way to Prouty, a sophomore left-hander who earned his fifth save of the spring with 2 2/3 innings of one-hit relief.
“Zach pitched a gutsy game,” Morris said, “and Carson’s the type of kid that if you give him the lead he’s going to keep it. That’s what he’s shown us, and he came in and with his curveball really kept them off balance.”
Tyler Parke’s fourth-inning sacrifice fly plated Munroe to tie the game at 6-6, then Bangor regained the lead an inning later.
Zach Murray and Canarr each singled and were sacrificed ahead by Prouty before Murray scored on a wild pitch with a head-first slide that involved a collision with Gorham relief pitcher Jacob Sladen, who was covering the plate.
Sladen was injured on the play and had to leave the game.
“The injury to Sladen didn’t help,” Nadeau said, “but when you get to this point Bangor had the pitching depth they needed.”
Bangor added three runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away, with Munroe blasting a two-run double to right-center and scoring on Parke’s triple.
“[Gorham reliever Ben Nelson] was throwing outside the whole at-bat so I really wanted to time one up and poke it over,” Munroe said of his opposite-field stroke. “You just have to wait for it, let it get deep and put it in play, because putting in play is what makes it work.”
Bangor jumped on Gorham starter Ryan Norris — also pitching on three days’ rest — for five runs in the top of the first.
Morris’ club sent nine batters to the plate, with each of the first four batters getting hits, including RBI singles by Noah Missbrenner and Cowperthwaite to give Bangor a quick 2-0 lead.
Norris followed a walk to Murray with back-to-back strikeouts, but Munroe hit a check-swing single to right to drive home a run and Neel followed with a two-run single to center to make it 5-0.
But Gorham wasn’t easily put away.
The South champions (15-5) immediately answered with four runs in the bottom of the first, an uprising capped off by Nolan Brown’s three-run double to left-center.
Gorham tied the game an inning later as Will Prescott hit a leadoff single and came around to score on Kyle King’s fielder’s choice, then took the lead in the bottom of the third. Brown walked, went to second on Trevor Loubier’s single to left and scored when Trevor Gray’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away.
After Bangor took the lead in the top of the fifth, Gorham threatened again in the bottom of the inning as Loubier hit a one-out single off Cowperthwaite and moved into scoring position on a first-pitch wild pitch to Gray.
On came Prouty, who struck out the next two batters to end the inning and allowed just one baserunner the rest of the way.
“Gorham is a great team, they hit the ball very well in the first couple of innings,” Prouty said. “I was just ready to do my job just like the rest of the guys.”
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