The Bangor Little League All-Stars’ season came to an end on Thursday night.
Jacob Landers’ three-run triple in the third inning was the big blow as Middleboro, Massachusetts, beat Bangor 10-1 in the New England Regional championship game at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center in Bristol, Connecticut, on Thursday night.
Middleboro will advance to the Little League World Series for the first time since 1994. Bangor was seeking a first-ever trip to Williamsport and this was the first time a Bangor team had ever reached a regional final.
Bangor had beaten Middleboro 10-4 in the winners bracket game on Monday but Middleboro stayed alive by eliminating Concord, New Hampshire, 11-0 in five innings on Wednesday to reach the final.
It is a hybrid double elimination format so even though Bangor was 2-0 and Middleboro was 2-1 entering the game, Thursday’s game was a winner-take-all affair. Middleboro didn’t have to beat Bangor twice, as would have been the case with a normal double-elimination tournament.
The Massachusetts state champions took advantage of Bangor starting pitcher Jacoby Harvey’s struggles to find the strike zone.
Massachusetts took the lead for good in the first inning when Cayden Ellis lined a two-out, opposite-field run-scoring single to left center following two walks.
Harvey walked three in the second but was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam.
He walked three more in the third and Landers made him pay by lining an opposite-field triple to right that landed just fair on the right field line.
Ellis singled home another run in the fourth and Jayden Murphy blasted a long two-run homer to left in the fifth off Gavin Hughes, his second homer in as many games.
Aaron Davis singled home a pair of runs in the sixth.
Bangor scored a run in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Patrick Guite following a pair of walks and a base hit by Max Kenney.
But Murphy got a strikeout to leave the bases loaded and avert further damage.
Harvey reached the 85-pitch in the fourth inning.
He allowed just two hits but walked eight and struck out seven. He allowed four runs.
Murphy pitched into the fifth and allowed just one run and one hit with 10 strikeouts. He hit three batters.
He reached his pitch limit and Landers came on and struck out the side after Harvey singled off him. Murphy had walked the lead-off hitter in the inning.
Bangor entered the game having outscored its opponents in the state tournament and the regional 50-11. It was seeking to become just the first team from Bangor to win a regional and advance to the Little League World Series, joining the 1951 Suburban (Portland suburbs) team, the 1971 Augusta team and the 2005 Westbrook team.
Bangor opened the regional tournament with a 3-0 win over Brattleboro, Vermont, in which Harvey and Caden Karam teamed up on a no-hitter. Harvey struck out 14 over 5 ⅓ innings.
The Maine state champs then upended Middleboro 10-4 in the winners bracket game to punch its ticket to the championship game. Karam allowed two hits and one run and struck out 14 over 5 ⅓ innings for the win and Harvey singled twice and drove in three runs.
Tyler Johnson had a pair of hits and Guite drove in a pair of runs with a base hit and fielder’s choice.
Middleboro began its regional with a 1-0 victory over Concord, New Hampshire, behind Murphy’s 5 ⅓ innings of two-hit ball and Gavin Gillpatrick’s sixth-inning homer.
Following the loss to Bangor, Middleboro regrouped and eliminated Concord 11-0 in five innings in their elimination contest on Wednesday as Gillpatrick picked up the win while also belting a two-run homer, a two-run double, a ground-rule double and a single.
Murphy homered, tripled and doubled.
Bangor hadn’t played in a regional since it won back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that this would be Middleboro’s first appearance ever in the Little League World Series. A team from Middleboro qualified for the tournament in 1994.