ORONO, Maine — The season-opening high school baseball rivalry between Bangor and Lewiston has been one-sided in recent years, though it hasn’t lacked for competitiveness.
Two years ago Bangor escaped with a 7-5 victory over the Blue Devils in Game 1, and last year the Rams won 5-4 en route to their fifth consecutive Class A state championship.
Lewiston – which also led Bangor 4-2 entering the bottom of the fifth inning in last spring’s regional semifinals before absorbing a 14-6 loss – finally broke through Wednesday, riding the three-hit pitching of Brodi Farinas and Josh Murphy to a 6-1 victory over the Rams at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Lewiston coach Darren Hartley. “It’s a pretty daunting task to come up here and play Bangor in game one. We’re very accustomed to how good they are, we have a ton of respect for them.
“But we felt like in the first game last year we outplayed them but didn’t win, and I’m very proud of the kids for how they played today.”
Farinas, a junior righthander, allowed one unearned run on three hits while striking out seven batters and walking just one over five innings. Murphy, a freshman lefthander, followed with two innings of hitless relief.
“We went with a couple of our younger starters and thought we were going to pitch by committee,” said Hartley. “But Brodi really did a great job of keeping them off balance.”
Bangor junior Carson Prouty was unable to match Farinas’ command of the strike zone. The lefthander limited Lewiston to four hits over his 4⅓ innings, but while he also had seven strikeouts he walked six and hit one batter while allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in all five innings he started.
Three times those leadoff runners scored.
“You can’t walk that many,” said Bangor coach Dave Morris.
Bangor’s starting lineup included just three players who started in the team’s 10-6 state-championship game victory over Gorham last June, and the difference was most noticeable at the plate where the Rams managed just one hit that left the infield and drew only two walks.
Bangor did not manage a hit until the bottom of the fourth when senior first baseman Noah Missbrenner hit a one-out single to right-center and classmate Zach Cowperthwaite followed with an infield hit back to the mound that Farinas knocked down but couldn’t control.
Farinas then retired the next two batters on a comebacker to the mound and a strikeout to preserve Lewiston’s early 2-0 lead.
“It just seemed like any time we had a chance to tie it up or open things up a little bit for ourselves the door got shut pretty quick,” said Morris.
The Blue Devils broke the game open with three runs in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a hit batter, an infield error, singles by Robert Dostie and Sam LaRoche and a walk to Cooper Millett.
LaRoche’s hit, Millett’s walk and a fielder’s choice grounder by Owen Cox all came with the bases loaded as Lewiston extended its lead to 5-0.
Bangor scored its lone run in the bottom of the inning. Freshman second baseman Keegan Cyr reached on a throwing error by Farinas, advanced to second on an infield hit by junior catcher Isaac Bushway and to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a sacrifice fly down the right-field line by sophomore shortstop James Neel.
Bangor is set to return to action at Brunswick on Friday before hosting defending Class B state champion Brewer next Monday at Mansfield Stadium.
“We have the same expectations,” said Morris, “but it’s going to take a little time in terms of getting experience for some guys who haven’t played before.
“We’ll just take it one day at a time, nothing’s really going to change from what we’ve done in the past. We’ve just got some guys who need some experience and as they gain confidence we’ll be there in the end.”