AUGUSTA — A tender arm kept Rowe Ford starting pitcher Marshall Peterson off the mound for a couple of weeks before the American Legion state tournament.

Peterson returned for the South Portland-based team’s tournament opener and stymied Skowhegan Post 16 for nearly six innings in an 11-3 win at McGuire Field on Wednesday.

Skowhegan (16-11), the Zone 1 runner-up, will face Fayette-Staples in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m., today at McGuire Field. South Portland, the Zone 3 winner, will face Rogers Post of Auburn at 4 p.m. at Morton Field.

Ryan Emery had two hits, including a double and a run scored, for Skowhegan, which also got two hits from Brendan Curran. Nate Ingalls led South Portland offensively by going 3-for-5 with four RBIs.

Peterson tossed 5 2/3 hitless innings and led, 6-1, before Cody Laweryson drove a clean single inside the third base line. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, two walks and a hit batter while fanning four in 6 2/3 innings.

“I haven’t been throwing the past two weeks, so I was just getting my arm loose again,” Peterson said. “I was feeling good. It felt like my arm was back to normal.”

“We came out a little flat,” Skowhegan coach Roger Stinson said. “I thought we were going to pick up where we left off last weekend at the zone tournament. But we just didn’t do it.”

By contrast, the top of South Portland’s batting order — Sam Troiano, Ingalls, Ben Conti and Drew Abramson — combined to go 8-for-15 with four walks, five runs scored and eight driven in against three Skowhegan pitchers, including lefty starter Isaiah Vigue.

“We thought they were going to throw the Laweryson kid (University of Maine-bound Cody Laweryson), so we were looking forward to facing him,” South Portland co-coach Andrew Wood said. “Troiano leads the game off with a triple and with his speed, he can definitely make some stuff happen. And Ingalls behind him is batting over .450 for us this year. Having those two guys who are both leadoff batters (Troiano for South Portland High School, Ingalls for Cape Elizabeth) sets the table for us, and then we’ve got the big bats behind them.”

Ingalls’ ground out plated Troiano after his leadoff triple to give South Portland a 1-0 lead. Conti then singled and took an extra base when the left fielder bobbled the ball. Abramson followed with another single to left to make it 2-0.

South Portland committed four errors in the first two innings, but Peterson — who had one of the miscues with a wild pickoff throw to first — limited the damage to one run. That came on a Dustin Crawford squeeze bunt that scored Will Stinson and cut South Portland’s lead in half, 2-1, in the second.

“We weren’t able to put a lot of runners on to play the small-ball and the ball we like to play,” Stinson said. “(Peterson) was throwing the low, outside pitch and we’ve got some guys that try to pull when they should just go with the pitch. That had our number for a little bit.”

“I was trying to stay away from most of the batters. I really didn’t know a lot about them,” Peterson said. “Usually, if you throw an inside pitch, they’ll pull it. So I was trying to stay away and get ground ball outs.”

The top four in South Portland’s order teamed-up again to strike for two more runs in the third. Ingalls made in 6-1 with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth.

Ingalls’ third RBI single extended the margin to 7-1 in the sixth. Three Skowhegan hits and a sacrifice fly by Devon Watt chased Peterson in the seventh. Dylan Willette drove in Skowhegan’s third run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth.

Stinson said Laweryson will start Thursday’s game in hopes of extending Skowhegan’s season.

“Back at it (Thursday),” Stinson said. “Our bats are strong. I believe in these kids. We’re going to play a lot more baseball.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33