Members of the Bangor High School baseball team approach Colton Trisch at the pitcher’s mound during a game against Edward Little on April 20, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The most anticipated game of Bangor High School’s baseball season to date displayed the balanced approach that has kept the Rams near the top of the state’s Class A ranks for most of the past decade.

Errorless defense and an 11-hit offense featuring contributions from virtually everyone in the lineup supported the three-hit pitching of senior Colton Trisch as the Rams defeated Oxford Hills of South Paris 7-1 last Friday. The win moved coach Dave Morris’ club past the Vikings into first place in the Heal point rankings, with four games left before the playoffs.

“We have a lot of respect for them,” said Bangor senior Keegan Cyr, a defensive standout at shortstop who also had three singles and scored three runs against Oxford Hills. “When you think of Maine high school baseball, Bangor and Oxford Hills are always in that conversation. It was a regular-season game, and we play who’s in front of us, but we lived up to the challenge [Friday] night.”

Bangor captured five consecutive Class A state championships between 2014 and 2018, and after a rare losing season in 2019 and the cancellation of the 2020 schedule due to COVID-19, the Rams returned to the championship level last spring. The team won the Class A North crown before falling to South Portland 3-2 in the state final on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Pitching and defense keyed most of those title runs, and similar strengths have led Bangor to an 11-1 record entering Monday’s game at Camden Hills of Rockport.

The defense has committed just 1.4 errors per game while turning seven double plays, an effort led by Cyr and featuring sophomore second baseman Yates Emerson, senior third baseman Braydon Caron and senior first baseman Luke Missbrenner, as well as classmate Ben Caron, a first-year starter in center field.

The pitching staff has a 1.33 earned run average over 79 innings, including four victories by shutout and three other games when the Rams yielded just one run.

Trisch struck out 12 batters and walked just one in a complete-game victory over Oxford Hills that improved his record this spring to 5-0 with a 0.75 ERA. The George Washington University-bound lefthander has allowed just three earned runs and nine hits in 28 innings with 43 strikeouts and 10 walks.

“Colton pitched great. He came right at us,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer, whose team fell to 10-2 after having its eight-game winning streak halted. “His fastball was tough to catch up with, but more importantly he was able to spot his deuce [slider], and they played very good defense behind him.”

Trisch is one of three undefeated starters on the Bangor pitching staff, with senior righthander Max Clark and junior righty Wyatt Stevens both 3-0 with ERAs under 1.50. Missbrenner, senior Jonah Baude and junior Matt Holmes compose a deep relief corps.

“It’s great going into every game knowing that we’re going to have a great pitcher on the mound who’s going to throw strikes, let the other team put the ball in play and let the defense make the plays,” Trisch said.

Bangor is perhaps most improved this spring at the plate, where the Rams have a robust .343 team batting average while averaging 8.9 runs per game.

“Last year we weren’t the best-hitting team, but we had the good defense,” senior catcher Ryan Howard said. “This year we knew we had to improve offensively and stay consistent on defense.”

Four starters are batting better than .450, with Trisch at .470 and Cyr at .461 in the top two spots in the order and Howard and Braydon Caron each at .459. Four other regulars are at .275 or better, including Holmes, an outfielder who didn’t have a hit against Oxford Hills but laid down two successful sacrifice bunts from the No. 3 spot in the batting order.

“What they’re good at is being patient, and they’re a great fastball-hitting team,” Slicer said. “If you can spot your deuce on them, you can keep them off balance, but other than that they hit the ball well.”

Morris credits the Rams’ offensive growth to the players’ collective practice habits.

“A lot of guys have done a good job of working on things they needed to work on in practice,” Morris said. “At the same time we’re just sitting on fastballs. We’re not trying to do a lot. We’re trying to take what the pitcher gives us. These guys like to practice. It’s evident, and they work hard on the things they need to improve on and it’s worked out in our favor so far.”

Bangor faces three road games against teams all at or near .500 — 5-5 Camden Hills on Monday, 6-6 Skowhegan on Wednesday and 5-6 Mt. Blue on Farmington on Friday — before returning home for its regular-season finale against Brewer on Wednesday, June 1.

“Our kids have done a great job of playing well when it matters most,” Morris said. “It’s good experience, and hopefully you get to the point when the playoffs come around that you feel like you’ve been there before.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...