March 18, 2019
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Sophomore thrives in sink-or-swim pitching role for state champion Bangor High baseball team

STANDISH, Maine — The physical stage was different, a pitcher’s mound instead of the starting block at the edge of a swimming pool.

Bangor High School sophomore Carson Prouty seems to be quite at home under the spotlight at either venue.

Already established as one of the state’s top high school swimmers — he posted two firsts and two seconds at the 2018 Class A state championships — Prouty emerged as a considerable presence on the diamond Saturday while helping Bangor capture its state-record fifth consecutive Class A state title.

Prouty relieved starter Zach Cowperthwaite with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning with the tying run in scoring position and a 1-0 count on Gorham’s Trevor Gray with Bangor having just taken a 7-6 lead.

The left-hander threw nine pitches, eight for strikes, while striking out both Gray and Will Prescott to end the inning unscored upon. He finished the day with a 2 2/3-inning, one-hit save as Bangor eventually pulled away to a 10-6 victory.

That win extended the Rams’ postseason winning streak to 20 games since the end of the 2013 season.

“He comes in with a runner on second with one out and a 1-0 count and he ends up striking out the first guy and then he strikes out the second guy,” said Bangor senior shortstop Zach Ireland. “I think that’s when we really started kicking it into gear and thinking we could do this and that we just had to keep grinding it out.

“Carson is just a warrior. He’s mentally tough and that’s how he gets it done.”

The save was the fifth of the spring for Prouty, who went 2-0 on the mound with a one-hit shutout victory over Mt. Blue of Farmington during the regular season and a win in relief when Bangor defeated Lewiston 14-6 in the Class A North semifinals.

Prouty finished his first varsity season allowing 12 hits, nine walks and five earned runs in 20 innings on the mound while striking out 23 batters.

Bangor catcher Tyler Parke credits both athleticism and a stoic demeanor on the mound for Prouty’s resilience under pressure.

“He looks like a veteran out there, even in practice he comes out and gives 110 percent every day,” said Parke. “Over the season we’ve bonded tremendously, and one of the reasons he’s had so much success is because he fits in with everybody.

“He’s not a hooligan, he’s not out partying, he’s funny, he’s relatable and that’s the kind of guy you want out on the mound because if they throw the ball in the dirt and they’re not liking it and they look at you and I look at them and say, ‘So what, throw the next pitch,’ you know he’s going to throw the next pitch for a strike.”

That composed mound presence may stem in part from his success in the pool, where at last winter’s state meet he won the 100-yard backstroke and was part of a first-place 200 medley relay team in addition to earning silver medals in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays.

“Tyler tells me all the time that I’ve just got to stay within myself and remain calm,” said Prouty, who also swam at the YMCA Nationals in early April. “In swimming, you really can’t do anything but your best and that’s what I did here. I went out and tried to do my best, and I let the team do everything else from there.”

Everything else in this case was one-error defense and a 16-hit attack against four Gorham pitchers that included a bunt single, sacrifice bunt, stolen base and a run scored by Prouty, who was the designated hitter before his pitching stint.

“Carson’s got a gift about him,” said Bangor coach Dave Morris. “In pressure situations obviously the swimming’s helped, but he’s got a confidence about him and I think we’re just seeing the beginning from him.”

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