SKOWHEGAN — If it’s true that the most dangerous opponent is the next one on the schedule, that’s even more so when that team feels like it has something to prove.

On Tuesday, Bangor played poorly against Messalonskee and suffered its first loss. On Friday afternoon, the Rams took that out on Skowhegan. Skylar Cassum struck out the first nine batters she faced and Skowhegan committed eight errors in Bangor’s 15-1 victory.

“Last year, we walked off this field in the playoffs losing a tough (7-6) game,” Bangor coach Don Stanhope said. “We didn’t talk about that a whole lot, but it was certainly in the back of their heads. Skowhegan, every single time we play them, it’s a tough game.

“We didn’t come to play against Messalonskee. We finally had two practices in a row. We had a good practice on Wednesday. We had a great practice yesterday. The kids really got into a rhythm, finally.”

The Rams (7-1) unleashed their aggressiveness in the first inning. Three times, they gambled on taking an extra base. Twice, they stole third. Emily Reilly was thrown out trying to stretch a single to a double, but all the other gambles paid off, and Bangor led 2-0 after half an inning.

“We haven’t been stealing bases or sliding into bases like we should be,” Cassum said. “So we’ve been practicing, and came ready to play.”

Skowhegan (6-1) was not only the defending state champion, but also the only remaining undefeated team in Eastern A in what was supposed to be a building year. But Cassum struck out the side on 10 pitches in the bottom of the first, and although Julia Steeves and Wylie Bedard dug in through nine-pitch at bats, she fanned the side again in the second.

“We were definitely on a mission — to beat the No. 1 team, and we lost to them last year,” Cassum said.

Bangor made it 6-0 with four runs in the top of the third, helped by Reilly’s two-run single and a Skowhegan error. Then Cassum struck out three more in a row in the bottom of the third. The game was shortened to five innings by the 12-run rule, so Cassum struck out 14 in just five innings of work.

“It was cliché, but she was hitting the spots that Coach (Jordan) Fitzpatrick was calling,” Stanhope said. “But she also was doing it with confidence. Messalonskee, the other day, hit her hard right off the bat. Any kid, that’s tough to come back from and have the confidence, so we’re really proud that she could do that.”

Bangor’s fourth inning included four Skowhegan errors, an illegal pitch, and doubles by Sydni Cosgrove and Emily Gilmore. Skowhegan’s only run came in the bottom of the inning, as Renee Wright led off with a double, and scored on a groundout by Annie Worthen.

It was an undeniably ugly game for the Indians, but it also looked familiar. One indelible image from the 2013 is Skowhegan losing 12-0 to Cony. The game was over after five innings, so the Skowhegan players and coaches had to sit in the bleachers and wait for the baseball game to finish so the bus could pick them up.

A little over a month later, Skowhegan was celebrating the Eastern A title.

“It’s one game,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “We definitely didn’t play to our best. They’re a really good club — we know that. You play good teams, you’ve got to play better than we did today. It’s one game.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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