AUGUSTA — Jason Burns went 2 for 2 with two walks, a home run and a double. Luke Duncklee, Corey Clarke and Chandler Shostak also had two hits apiece, and it was Shostak’s single that drove in the eventual winning run.

And yet, Augusta’s player of the game was the same guy it always is when Ryan Minoty pitches: Mr. Ryan Minoty himself.

On this day, Minoty pitched a complete-game two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and added a three-run homer as Augusta advanced to the Zone 2 American Legion Baseball championship game with a 6-1 victory over Post 51 at Morton Field.

Post 51 was eliminated later in the day by Gardiner/Post 204, 7-6. Augusta and Gardiner/Post 204 will play at 4 p.m., today at Morton Field. Augusta advances to the state tournament with a win, and Gardiner would be the Zone runner-up. If Gardiner wins today, the teams play again Tuesday, with the winner going to states and the loser named the runner-up.

The Zone 2 runner-up will need to win a play-in game Saturday against the Zone 1 (Bangor-area) runner-up to qualify for the state tournament.

Minoty’s only loss this season was against Post 51’s Nate Veilleux, who also started Saturday. Veilleux pitched for the University of Southern Maine in the spring, and Minoty plans to attend USM in the fall.

“I know Veilleux. He knows me. We’ve been talking,” Minoty said. “He told me the beginning of this week that he was throwing this game, and (I knew) I was throwing this game.”

Both pitchers were solid through five innings. Post 51’s Cale Knox doubled in the top of the second inning and later scored, and Sam Dexter also doubled in the third for Post 51’s last hit. Minoty retired 18 of the 19 batters he faced after Dexter’s double, including the last 14. Minoty got seven one-pitch outs.

Augusta (16-2) scored on Burns’ solo homer in the second, and tacked on four runs in the sixth to break the game open. Burns led off with a double that was lost in the sun, and Nick Lucas was hit by a pitch. After a forceout, Shostak grounded one up the middle and off the glove of a diving Dexter at shortstop for an RBI single.

“Our motto all year has been, ‘Be ready, because you never know when your time’s gonna be here,’ ” Augusta coach Ray Vallee said. “The biggest hit of the game was Chandler Shostak’s base hit through the middle. It gave us a lead, and when you get Ryan a lead, it’s a comforting feeling.”

With the score 2-1, Minoty stepped in and put a 1-2 pitch over the fence in right field for a 5-1 Augusta lead.

“I thought a curveball was coming, so I stayed back,” Minoty said. “I knew it was gone when I hit it, because he throws hard enough, and I got a good piece.”

In the other morning game, Spencer Allen pitched a complete game and Gardiner eliminated Franklin County with a 10-5 victory. Cody Plourde moved from the leadoff spot to cleanup for Gardiner and went 3 for 4 and scored four runs. Allen and Forrest Chadwick each added two hits. For Franklin, Hank Poulin singled three times, while Jake Lord and Craig Marshall had two hits apiece.

That set up an elimination game in the afternoon between Gardiner and Post 51. Each team had the lead twice, and Gardiner looked like a much different team than the one that lost 11-2 to Post 51 a day earlier.

“We had a little talk at the end (of Saturday),” Gardiner coach Dan Burdin said. “We played miniature putt-putt golf in the outfield this morning for 30 minutes, and just relaxed.”

Josh Martin pitched the final 5 2/3 innings for Gardiner (12-7), allowing three runs and getting the victory. Burdin said considering the opposition, it was the best Martin has pitched this summer. In two games against Post 51 this season, Martin had allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 innings.

“You just gotta throw strikes,” Martin said. “Today I felt good, I had the velocity and everything was working.”

Post 51 (13-6) led 2-0 in the first inning, and erased a 5-2 deficit with a run in the fourth and two in the fifth. Post 51 regained the lead in the seventh on a solo shot by Dexter.

Gardiner got that back on a homer by Chadwick in the top of the eighth, and the score was still tied at 6-6 when Plourde led off the ninth with a walk. Plourde stole second on the first pitch to Allen, then came home on Allen’s clean single to center on the next pitch.

“Cody hasn’t been thrown out (stealing) all year,” Burdin said. “The idea was to go on the second pitch. But as long as they’re safe, we’re fine with it.”

Jacobs is looking at next summer with optimism.

“We’ll be back here again, hopefully,” Jacobs said. “We gotta make it to the states. We’ve been knocking on the door. We’re learning more every year about everything, and we’re gonna get there.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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