BRISTOL – On most days, pitching into the fifth inning, allowing only five hits and recording 12 strikeouts along the way, including an immaculate inning, would be enough for a win. On Saturday, however, the state champions out of Bangor, Maine received what might end up being the only pitching performance in the bracket better than what Senji Kimura of Brattleboro, Vermont brought to the table in the opening game of the New England Regional Tournament.
Jacoby Harvey got the nod for Maine and no-hit Vermont into the final inning before reaching his pitch limit with two outs to go. Fourteen strikeouts for Harvey were enough for Caden Karam to come in and shut the door on a potential comeback for the road team and complete the combined-no-hitter by a final score of 3-0.
The first two innings were a staring contest for both starters, who each recorded six strikeouts through the opening pair. Vermont blinked first in the third inning relinquishing the first run of the game and Maine never looked back.
Bangor manager Jason Harvey explained the heightened pressure of playing in the opening game of the Eastern Region, but that first run allowed his side to play with more ease.
“Intense,” Harvey said on the atmosphere of the game. “Having the first game was a little nerve-wracking but the kids settled in great. Jacoby [Harvey] got us off to a good start on the mound throwing the ball well. Daxton [Gifford] put a good at-bat together in the first inning and hit the ball hard to put a little relaxation on the group… Getting that first win out of the way is great for these guys.”
Through a series of passed balls, wild pitches and fielder’s choices, Maine was able to tack on one more run in each of the next two innings. Maine starting pitcher Jacoby Harvey commended the effort from Kimura on the other side despite their ability to put three runs across.
“[Kimura] threw hard with a good off-speed [pitch],” Harvey said. “He kept us off balance with mixing pitches. He did a great job.”
Maine shortstop Daxton Gifford still thinks there is room for his team to improve before Monday. He noted the great performance on both sides of the ball, but he doesn’t want Maine to hang their head as much when things aren’t going as well.
Vermont will play the loser of Massachusetts and New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Maine will have an extra day of rest before the New England semifinals on Monday at 9 a.m. against the winner of the other matchup.