Justin Courtney pitches for the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Class A baseball team for the New York Mets, in 2022. Credit: Contributed photo

Bangor’s Justin Courtney had the week of Sept. 6-11 circled on his calendar before the baseball season started.

The former Bangor High School three-sport standout and University of Maine pitcher had signed with the New York Mets last September, and was hoping he could move up the minor league ladder from the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones to the AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies before Sept. 6 so he could pitch against the Portland Sea Dogs in Portland.

It looks like his wish will come true.

He was called up to the Rumble Ponies from the Cyclones on Aug. 23, and he has already had two scoreless outings for Binghamton ahead of the team’s six-game series at Hadlock Field from Sept. 6-11.

Between Brooklyn and Binghamton, Courtney has posted a 5-3 record with a 3.96 earned run average, with opponents hitting .268 against him. In his two outings with the Rumble Ponies, he has thrown three innings and allowed three hits and a walk with three strikeouts. He earned holds in each game.

A pitcher earns a hold when he enters the game in a save situation and maintains the lead for the next relief pitcher while registering at least one out.

“It has gone real well,” Courtney said. “I am really looking to put together a strong last month and keep the momentum going into the off-season.”

Last year in the Angels organization, Courtney was 3-1 with a 5.23 ERA in Class A ball. He allowed 49 hits in 43 innings and had 47 strikeouts and 11 walks.

The Inland Empire 66ers released him on Aug. 24, 2021.

“The big difference this year is that I have been able to throw my breaking balls for strikes early in the count,” said Courtney, referring to his slider and his curve. “I’ve done a better job mixing up all my pitches. If you can get your pitches in the strike zone early in the count, that opens up a lot of opportunities to use different pitches later in the count.”

He said he was thankful to Cyclones manager Luis Rivera for using him in high-leverage situations with the game on the line.

“You want to be a pitcher your manager can trust and you want to be durable,” said the 26-year-old righthander. “And I was able to accomplish both in Brooklyn.”

Courtney’s fastball has been in the 92-96 mph range and he has been utilizing his change-up, which he says has been particularly effective against left handed hitters.

He has been throwing his fastball up in the strike zone because it has been getting good movement upstairs.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Courtney said he has been giving up a lot of weakly hit singles, so he wants to continue to refine his slider and curve “so I can get more swings and misses and a few more strikeouts off of them. I want to be more consistent with all of my pitches and move the ball around.”

The former UMaine freshman All-American and All-America East second team and rookie team selection said his goal for this season was to reach AA, and he is hoping to continue his rise through the minors to pitch in the Major Leagues.