STANDISH — Justin Courtney lost his no-hitter with one out in the seventh inning. It didn’t matter, he said. Two outs later, Bangor had the prize it really wanted.
Courtney finished with a one-hitter and the Rams rolled to an 8-0 win over Windham for the Class A baseball state championship Saturday at St. Joseph’s College.
In winning its 11th straight game, Bangor (18-2) captured its first state title since 2006 and its 10th overall.
The Rams jumped on Windham starter Spencer Hodge for three straights hits in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. An error led to another run.
With Courtney dominating on the mound, Windham (11-10) couldn’t find the magic that carried the 11th seed in the West to four upset wins on the way to the regional title.
Courtney, pitching on three days rest, earned his fifth shutout of the season. He struck out 10.
Ethan Petty singled between short and third to break up the no-hitter.
“The no-hitter doesn’t matter,” said Courtney, who is going to UMaine on a baseball scholarship. “I just wanted to pitch well, and if I did we would be successful. I was ready to pitch when I stepped off the bus.
“We stuck to what we’ve been doing all season. Everyone felt comfortable at the plate and I felt comfortable on the mound. To pitch in a game like this, I couldn’t ask for anything more. This a great team and it couldn’t happen to a better group. We’ve worked hard for this.”
Courtney, combining an overpowering fastball, a curve and a cutter, struck out five of the six batters he faced in the third and fourth innings.
“Justin was dominant,” said Bangor Coach Jeff Fahey. “When Windham put pressure on him, we made some plays we haven’t had to make all season.
“I think he took it personally that he was overlooked for some individual awards. We’ve had unbelievable pitching all season. Our ERA has to be under three.”
The Eagles threatened once, loading the bases with no outs in the fifth. The Rams got out of it by forcing two runners at home, first on a grounder to first baseman Andrew Hillier, and then a grounder to Sam Huston at third. Courtney struck out the next batter.
“Courtney got into a rhythm on the mound and we couldn’t break it,” said Windham Coach Brody Artes. “He’s the best pitcher we’ve seen. We saw (Ben) Greenberg (of Scarborough) for a couple of innings earlier in the year and he throws about as Greenberg does, but we haven’t seen anyone consistently as good as Courtney. He pitched a heck of a game and we just didn’t get the hits.”
Jordan Derrah opened the game with a long double to left-center. Trevor Delaite singled up the middle with Derrah stopping at third, and Courtney ripped an RBI single to left. The Eagles turned a double play to relieve some of the pressure, but an infield error allowed Delaite to score.
Bangor added three runs in the third. Huston tripled to right-center with two runners on. In the sixth, the Rams scored three more runs on three hits.
“The kids were fired up,” said Fahey. “We feasted on their fastballs.”
Windham’s Tanner Laberge, who pitched 82/3 no-hit innings in the Western Maine final, said Courtney kept the Eagles off balance with his selection of pitches.
“He had good velocity. He mixed it up with a curve and his cutter was really tough. It looks like a fastball and just drops off,” said Laberge.
“Even though Bangor jumped out at the start, we never gave up. We just needed one momentum shifter but we never got it.
“It’s been an amazing run. I had so much fun playing with these guys. It’s the best way to go out, making it to the state final. We just came up a little short.”