FAIRFIELD — Central Maine secured a berth in today’s championship game while Augusta wilted in Friday’s afternoon heat after playing back-to-back games at the Babe Ruth state tournament for 14-year-olds.

Central Maine remained the tournament’s only unbeaten team following Friday morning’s 7-4 win against Portland. Battling out of the loser’s bracket, Augusta eliminated Tri County South 5-2 before falling to Portland in the second half of a doubleheader 14-4 in five innings.

Today’s final pits Central Maine against Portland in a 1 p.m. championship game at Lawrence High School. Should Portland win, the teams will play again at approximately 4 p.m. The winner advances to the New England Regional in Westfield, Mass.

Central Maine got a gutsy relief performance from Zach Mathieu after heat and arm soreness forced starter Dylan Hapworth to come out of the game after two innings.

“Dylan came out after two and said he was done,” Central Maine manager Jeff Gardiner said. “He looked tired. We brought in Zach and he pitched a heck of a game. We gave him the game ball.”

Central Maine scored three runs in the third inning and two in each the sixth and seventh innings, taking advantage of five Portland errors. Matt Champney led Central Maine hitters with a single, double and triple while Ryan Dubois added two singles.

“Champney is hot at the plate,” Gardiner said. “He’s got six hits the last two games. He’s on fire now.”

Augusta got a strong pitching performance from Mitchell Bonenfant in beating Tri County. Bonenfant scattered nine hits, struck out six and didn’t issue a walk.

“He was on fire today,” Augusta manager Earl Kingsbury said. “He’s got a couple of pitches now so he did a very good job.”

Augusta played strong defense behind Bonenfant, turning two double plays. The team did strand 12 baserunners but managed three runs in the first inning off Tri Country starter Luke Johnson and added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Ben Lucas singled twice, doubled and scored two runs to lead Augusta hitters. In the seventh, Thomas Foster drove in Taylor Carrier with a safety squeeze and Ray Mosca contributed an RBI single.

With temperatures approaching 100 degrees on the field, Augusta couldn’t recoup in time to challenge Portland which scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning.

“Playing in the heat everyone got tired in the end,” said Carrier, who started at catcher in both games and eventually came on to pitch. “It didn’t work out that well for us.”

Portland collected 10 hits, led by Griffin Py who doubled twice and hit a long two-run homer over the fence in left in the second inning. Three of Augusta’s four hits were doubles from Mitchell Caron, Spencer Buck and Foster.

“It’s the first time we’ve made it to the states as a group,” Carrier said. “I think we did pretty good. Hopefully next year we can win it.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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