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Ten teams will converge on Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium beginning Thursday, all seeking to advance to the Senior League World Series.
The seven-day, double-elimination Senior League East Regional kicks off its first year in the Queen City at 11 a.m. Thursday when state champions from Maryland and Massachusetts collide in the first of two opening-day games. Pennsylvania will face Delaware at 2 p.m.
Four more games are set for Friday, with 18 or 19 total required through next Wednesday to qualify a regional champion for the SLWS — the Little League Baseball world championship tournament for 15- and 16-year-olds — that begins July 27 in Easley, South Carolina.
Wilmington, Delaware, is the defending East Regional champion and went on to advance to the 2018 SLWS championship game before falling to Willemstad, Curacao, 7-2.
The Old Town Senior League all-stars won three games without a loss at Mansfield Stadium earlier this month to capture the Maine District 3 championship and earn an automatic berth to this year’s regional as host team.
Old Town will play its East Regional opener at 1 p.m. Friday against Mount Monadnock Little League of Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
The 10-player squad is comprised of players from Old Town, Bradley, Greenbush and Milford who competed this past spring at Old Town and Orono high schools.
Eight of the players have previous regional tournament experience, having participated on Old Town’s 2017 and 2018 state championship Junior League teams that advanced to the East Regional in New Jersey each year.
That group includes Seth Haverlock and Noah Thibodeau, who played on both the 2017 and 2018 squads. Zach Dill, Matt Seymour and Casey Downs competed for Old Town’s 2017 Junior League entry while Connor McCannell, Blaine Murray and Caleb Ryder were on the 2018 team.
Other members of this year’s team are Jordan Cota and Austyn Moores.
“They’ve had a little experience,” said Old Town Senior League manager Shane McCannell, who also managed the city’s Junior League all-star team last summer. “Obviously it’s a little different playing at home. I think there’s a little less stress because it’s home and they’ve seen the field and played on the field.”
Old Town also is buoyed by success several Maine District 3 teams had when Bangor hosted the Senior League World Series from 2002 to 2016, including a team from the Canoe City that reached the 2015 semifinals.
“They’re looking forward to it,” said McCannell, who is assisted on the Old Town bench by coach Mike Haverlock. “They know when the World Series was here the District 3 champion always had a little success, so they’re fully expecting to compete. They’re not going to be satisfied with just getting here.”
When Little League opted to move the Senior League East Regional from West Deptford, New Jersey, to Bangor beginning this year, that provided many of the players even more motivation to play Senior League baseball this summer.
Old Town opened District 3 tournament play with a 10-4 win over Bronco (Hampden area), then escaped with a 4-3 victory over Holbrook (Brewer area) behind Dill’s pitching and Connor McCannell’s game-winning two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
The team clinched the district title with a 9-1 victory over Bronco last Sunday.
“Three or four of these kids I began coaching at 5 years old in farm league so I’ve watched the progression and then coached against some of these kids,” coach McCannell said. “Now to have them come together like this and stay strong with Old Town Little League and have some success has been great to see.”