The John Bapst of Bangor baseball team won seven of its first eight games this spring, marking one of the program’s better starts in recent history.
A recent scoring drought — the Crusaders had managed just one run in their last three games — led to a midseason losing streak, but aggressive baserunning helped the team’s offense reemerge Wednesday and senior righthander Allen Wheaton did the rest, tossing a complete-game two-hitter as John Bapst shut down visiting Hermon 9-0 in a Class B North encounter at the Winkin Complex on the Husson University campus.
John Bapst, which began the day ranked seventh in the division, improved its record to 8-4 while No. 8 Hermon fell to 6-4.
Coach Jason O’Reilly’s Crusaders amassed nine hits, stole nine bases in as many attempts and played errorless defense while never trailing after cleanup batter Nate Tibbits singled home two runs on a fly ball lost in the sun in the bottom of the first inning.
The Crusaders added three unearned runs in the third inning, then scored two more in the fifth to make it 7-0 on a two-out, two-run pinch-hit double by Tyler Sawyer.
John Bapst generated its final two runs an inning later when Jack Mason hit an RBI triple down the left-field line and scored on Tibbits’ sacrifice fly.
Pivotal player: Wheaton retired the first 13 Hermon batters he faced before yielding an infield single to Daniel England in the top of the fifth inning and went on to finish the game with eight strikeouts and two walks — both with two out in the top of the seventh.
Wheaton also singled twice, walked once, stole two bases and scored twice in four plate appearances to aid John Bapst’s offense.
Big takeaway: With two weeks left in the regular season, both teams are battling to earn home-field advantage in the Round of 16 of this year’s open baseball tournament. With 15 teams in Class B North, just one team — currently Ellsworth — will earn a first-round bye while teams No. 2 through No. 8 will host prelim games.
What’s next: John Bapst and Hermon began the day in the final two hosting slots, so the win will help the Crusaders’ cause with four regular-season games remaining while Hermon still has six games left in its bid to play at least one postseason home game.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of teams that will host preliminary playoff tournament games.