Bangor teammates hoist the championship trophy after defeating Gorham in the Class A state championship at St. Joseph’s College in Standish on Saturday. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald)
STANDISH — If baseball success was based solely on statistics, coach Dave Morris says not many people would be impressed with his Bangor High School baseball team.
Put the Rams in a game and everything changes.
“We get in big games and the guys rise to the occasion,” Morris said.
Like Saturday. Bangor won its record fifth consecutive Class A baseball state championship by beating Gorham 10-6 in a back-and-forth game at St. Joseph’s College’s Mahaney Diamond. Bangor got 16 hits off four Gorham pitchers, with the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters — sophomore Jacob Munroe and freshman James Neel — driving in five runs.
“They were relentless,” Gorham coach Chuck Nadeau said. “They tested our pitching depth. Up and down the lineup, one through nine, I thought they had guys who could get big hits. And they did it today.”
Bangor (19-1) scored five runs in the top of the first, only to see Gorham (15-5) score four in the bottom of the inning and take the lead, 6-5, with single runs in the second and third.
Then Bangor came back, as it always seems to do.
“Our guys have been in those situations before,” said Morris, who was a high school teammate of Nadeau on Bangor’s 1985 state championship team. “I like the way we came back and kept our composure.”
Bangor tied the game in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Parke, then went ahead in the sixth when Zach Murray scored on a wild pitch. Gorham reliever Jacob Sladen was injured on the play and had to be replaced.
Bangor pulled away in the top of the seventh with three runs, two coming in on a double by Munroe, the other on a triple by Parke.
“They got the ball in play,” Gorham senior shortstop Ben Nelson said. “They kept hitting the ball in the gaps, and when runners were in scoring position, they did a really good job of making us pay.”
It started early. Bangor sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning, getting five runs on six hits. Noah Missbrenner, winning pitcher Zach Cowperthwaite and Munroe each had a run-scoring single, and Neel drove in two with a single.
But Gorham came right back in the bottom half. Nolan Brown tripled with the bases loaded and scored on a grounder by Trevor Loubier.
Gorham tied it in the second, with Will Prescott scoring on a fielder’s choice by Kyle King, then got an unearned run in the third.
Bangor tied it with an unearned run in the fourth and went ahead in the fifth when Sladen threw a wild pitch with runners on second and third and one out. Murray scored, colliding with Sladen on the play at the plate and knocking him out of the game.
Munroe broke it open in the seventh with his two-run double.
“I was just trying to get the ball in play, make contact,” Munroe said. “As soon as I made contact, I felt pretty good.”
Carson Prouty relieved Cowperthwaite with one out in the fifth and struck out the first two batters he faced to end that inning. He allowed just one hit and two baserunners in his 2 2/3 innings, relying, he said, on Parke, a senior catcher, to keep him calm.
The game ended when Missbrenner, the first baseman, caught a foul pop-up while colliding with Parke in front of the Bangor dugout.
“It was an unbelievable way to end the game,” said Prouty, a sophomore. “It was awesome.”
And while Gorham fell just short, the Rams certainly made the five-time champs work for this one.
“I’m proud of the team,” Nadeau said. “We competed well. I thought our kids were tough. We just ran out of steam a little bit.”
Zach Murray of Bangor slides head first into homeplate into the chest of Gorhamâ€™s Jacob Sladen during the Class A state baseball championship at St. Joseph’s College in Standish on Saturday. Murray was safe and scored Bangorâ€™s seventh run while Sladen left the game due to chest pain. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald)Karl Sund of Bangor, second from left, screams in celebration while he and his teammates hoist the championship trophy after defeating Gorham in the Class A state championship at St. Joseph’s College in Standish on Saturday. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald)Gorhamâ€™s Kyle King dives back to first as Noah Missbrenner of Bangor takes the throw from the pitcher during the Class A state championship at St. Joseph’s College in Standish on Saturday. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald)Gorham starting pitcher Ryan Norris watches the ball go to the plate during the Class A state championship at St. Joseph’s College in Standish on Saturday. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald)