AUGUSTA — When the Bangor and Messalonskee high school baseball teams played each other in the regular season, Messalonskee capitalized on Bangor errors to take the win.

In the rematch Tuesday, which came in the Eastern Class A championship game, Bangor flipped the script. The Rams took advantage of four Messalonskee errors, got some timely hits, and rode a strong pitching effort from Justin Courtney to take a 6-3 win.

Bangor, now 17-2, will play in the state championship game for the first time since 2007 when it plays Saturday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Messalonskee, winner of the last two Eastern A titles, ends the season 13-6.

“I’ve always been, and always will be, a big believer of defense in the playoffs,” Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier said. “That’s the only way you’re going to move on. I don’t care how well you hit, it’s defense that does it, and it showed.”

A throwing error in the bottom of the third inning on a potential double play ball allowed Johnny Cote to score the first Bangor run. In the bottom of the fifth, the Rams used six hits and two more Messalonskee errors to score five runs.

With one out, Jordan Derrah singled and Trevor Delaite reached on an error. Courtney singled to score Derrah, and Andrew Hillier hit a sharp single up the middle to score Delaite. A throwing error on the play scored Courtney and the Rams had a 4-0 lead. Messalonskee starting pitcher Jake Dexter gave way to Josh Casey.

“It definitely takes some pressure off us. You couldn’t ask for better timing,” Courtney said. “Everybody was on the edge, close to getting a big hit, and once the runs started coming, we had a good feeling in the dugout.”

Riley McKay’s pinch-hit double to left field scored two more runs to push Bangor’s lead to 6-0.

“We were patient and I think even though we squandered some opportunities early we were still putting it in play, getting those lead runners on,” Bangor coach Jeff Fahey said. “The inning that we scored the five, we hit the ball well.”

That was plenty of offensive support for Courtney, who threw five scoreless innings before the Eagles got on the board with a Zach Mathieu RBI single in the top of the sixth. Courtney mixed up his pitches well, combining a strong curveball with a sneaky quick fastball.

“I felt confident in all my pitches today. I felt really prepared and it all came together for us. I’m really happy for my team,” Courtney, who walked two and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings, said.

Added Bernier: “We knew what we were getting into. Obviously, he’s a great pitcher. We felt if we worked his pitch count, we could start getting on him. We did, but unfortunately it was a little too late.”

The Eagles scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning before Bangor relief pitcher Hillier ended the game. Devin Warren drove in Sam Bell with a sacrifice fly to center, and Trevor Gettig scored on a Mathieu double.

“Those kids have been here three times in a row. They’re not going to quit. We knew they wouldn’t,” Fahey said.

For Messalonskee, this was the fourth regional championship game in six years.

“You kind of get selfish, though. Once you get to this point you don’t want to stop,” Bernier said. “Instead of enjoying being here you want that next step because you’ve been there. We have to remind ourselves that we should be thankful that we’re here.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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