The Maine state champion Bangor Little League All-Star team moved one step closer to earning a trip to the Little League World Series as it received a gem from hard-throwing right handed pitcher Caden Karam to beat Massachusetts champion Middleboro 10-4 in the New England Regional Tournament’s winners bracket game in Bristol, Connecticut, on Monday morning.
Bangor will next play in the championship game on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 5 p.m.
Bangor is seeking to become just the fourth team from Maine to win a regional and advance to the Little League World Series and the first since Westbrook in 2005.
The team will play the winner of Wednesday’s 1 p.m. game between Massachusetts and New Hampshire champion Concord.
Concord eliminated Brattleboro, Vermont, 2-0 in a losers bracket game on Sunday.
Massachusetts beat New Hampshire in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament 1-0 after Bangor had no-hit Brattleboro 3-0 with Jacoby Harvey and Karam combining for 16 strikeouts. Harvey had 14 before Karam came on to strike out the final two hitters after walking the first two he faced.
The regional champion advances to play in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The World Series added 20 teams to the field this season, 10 from the United States and 10 international teams.
Bangor coach Jason Harvey called it an “awesome” performance by his team.
“The big thing is the kids put pressure on them every inning, offensively,” Harvey said. “And Caden was great. He attacked them with his fastball.”
Karam struck out 14 over 5 ⅓ innings and allowed just two hits, a walk and one earned run.
Gavin Hughes finished up after Karam reached the 85-pitch limit.
Jacoby Harvey, Jason’s son, drove in three runs with a pair of singles to pace Bangor’s attack. Tyler Johnson had two hits and Patrick Guite knocked in two with a single and a fielder’s choice.
Bangor took a lead it would never relinquish in the top of the first when Harvey drew a two-out walk and scored from first on Kaleb Johnson’s base hit to right center and an outfield error on the play.
Bangor pushed across two more in the second.
With runners on second and third, Guite hit a grounder back to the mound. The runner raced home from third and the pitcher made an errant off-balance throw to first to allow the second run to score.
Middleboro got one back in the bottom of the second when Ayden Morris doubled and scored on two wild pitches.
But Karam doubled home a third-inning run and Bangor expanded the lead to 6-1 with a pair of runs in the fourth when Hughes was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Harvey produced an RBI single.
Bangor added four more in the fifth as Harvey hit a two-run single and the other runs scored when Mason Bond was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Kaleb Johnson had a run-scoring fielder’s choice.
Hits by Morris, Jayden Murphy and Gavin Gillpatrick sparked a three-run rally by Middleboro in the sixth but Bangor held on for the win.