Bangor pitcher Kyle Johnson throws to first to try and pick off Messalonskee's Jack Hammond in the third inning of their game at Mansfield Stadium. Credit: Adam Robinson / BDN

Jacob Love came in to pitch in relief with a 5-4 lead, struck out all seven batters he faced and clinched the win for Messalonskee over Bangor in a baseball classic at Mansfield Stadium.

Messalonskee wasted no time Wednesday night.

Leading off the game was Garrett Card, who walked and then reached third on an error during the following at-bat from Jack Hammond. Hammond singled into left field and drove home Card to give the Eagles a quick 1-0 lead.

Hammond reached third on a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice. Michael Achorn doubled down the left-field line and scored Hammond.

Achorn and Hammond both went 3-for-4 for the Eagles.

Messalonskee’s starting pitcher, Garrett Giguere, pitched two clean innings to keep the Eagles’ 2-0 advantage.

Hammond led off the top of the third inning with a single into left field, then Brenden Roderick followed with a single that moved Hammond to third base.

In the bottom of the third, Bangor’s Ethan Sproul was hit by a pitch to kickstart the frame. Three batters later, Wyatt Stevens drilled a long flyout to left field that was deep enough to score Sproul from third and cut the deficit to 3-1.

Messalonskee went to Cash Bizier in the fourth inning. Bizier pitched 1 2/3 innings for the Eagles.

In the fifth inning, Messalonskee’s Dennis Martin walked to lead off the inning, and Achorn followed with a ground ball single into left. Both base runners advanced thanks to a wild pitch during Giguere’s at-bat, then a following high pitch scored Martin. Bangor’s catcher, Jack Schuck, tried to throw quickly to home plate to get Achorn out but his throw was high and suddenly the Eagles had a 5-1 lead.

Bangor needed an answer to break Messalonskee’s momentum, and it found one in the bottom of the fifth.

Stevens led off with a single into left field that bounced over the glove of the third baseman, followed by two one-out walks from Geo Socolow and Kyle Johnson to load the bases for Yates Emerson.

Emerson, who faced a 3-0 count, struck out for the Rams’ second out of the inning. Jack Earl was up next, who earned a walk that scored Stevens, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 5-2.

Jacob Love took over the mound in relief to face Bangor’s pinch hitter Scott Socobasin, who with two outs hit a single into the gap in right field that scored two runs. Love notched a strikeout to finally end the inning, but Bangor had charged back to trail just 5-4 after five innings.

Both teams went down in order in the sixth inning, with Love striking out the side to keep the Eagles’ lead at 5-4.

Bangor turned a double play in the seventh to help escape the frame with no runs allowed and entered the bottom of the seventh down one.

Love struck out the side again and earned the save for the Eagles.

“We had [Love] on our minds today,” Messalonskee coach Eric Palin said. “The plan was to have him close the last couple innings. He wasn’t on any sort of pitch count and we had confidence that if he came in with a lead we could shut them out on the back end.”

The Eagles, after losing to Brewer and Skowhegan, have now won five in a row and are feeling like they’re playing great baseball.

“We started firing on all cylinders,” Palin said. “We had a little ego check moment after our first two losses to Brewer and Skowhegan. Two good teams but we know on a good day we can beat those teams. We’re playing well and not even halfway through our schedule so far.”

Weather kept Messalonskee inside for much of their preseason and so the Eagles were rusty starting out.

“We got the bats going, got more reps in the field,” Love said. “When we started we didn’t get out much, didn’t see any live balls, no live pitching, but now we are playing and we’re winning.”

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Adam Robinson

Adam Robinson is a native of Auburn, Maine, and graduate of Husson University and Edward Little High School. He enjoys sports, going on runs and video games.