AUGUSTA — Augusta scored 27 runs in the American Legion Zone 2 championship game July 18, then didn’t play again until Wednesday morning.

Augusta’s hitters picked up right where they left off.

Facing Zone 1 champion Brewer on the first day of the American Legion Baseball state tournament, Augusta scored in each of the first six innings and finished with 17 hits. Ryan Minoty pitched six strong innings, and Augusta cruised to a 16-4 victory at Morton Field. The win was Augusta’s 18th in a row.

“We’ve been practicing all week, taking a lot of hacks in practice,” Augusta catcher Jason Burns said. “That’s one thing we were a little worried about, with this long layoff. But we really just worked at it in practice — a lot of situations, a lot of hitting.”

The game was shortened to seven innings by the 10-run rule, and the victory puts Augusta in the winner’s bracket. Augusta will face defending state champion Gayton Post at 2 p.m., today at Morton Field. The likely starting pitchers are Luke Duncklee for Augusta and Joe Sullivan for Gayton.

Six different players had at least two hits for Augusta. Burns was 2 for 2 with three walks, while Nick Lucas went 4 for 5 and drove in five runs.

Minoty was his usual self — working quickly, shirt untucked, and dominant. He allowed two runs in the third and fourth innings after Augusta had built a 10-0 lead, but finished with 10 strikeouts, including the last seven batters he faced.

“He the best pitcher we’ve seen all year,” Brewer coach Chris Morris said. “He throws very hard. He’s got a great curveball. He attacks. And I think one of his best qualities is he’s a competitor. He’s a bulldog up there.”

Augusta scored in the top of the first inning on two walks, a single and an RBI groundout, and manufactured another run in the second on a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt, a groundout and a wild pitch.

While that wasn’t a big offensive outburst, the 2-0 lead was critical.

“That’s huge,” Burns said. “Coach (Ray) Vallee said before the game, ‘Get one or two runs for Minoty, and we’ve got this.’ “

Augusta got an even more comfortable cushion with eight runs in the top of the third. Erik Ogren opened with an infield single, and Burns and Lucas followed with doubles. Corey Lapierre then homered to right-center field and Augusta led 6-0.

Lucas ended up with a two-run double and a two-run single in the inning, and an error led to three unearned runs. Brewer made five errors in the game and issued eight walks.

“The thing we’ve done all year is we’ve pitched, we’ve thrown strikes and we’ve played defense,” Morris said. “We did zero of that really today. We made some big errors, and we didn’t really throw strikes. At this level, good-hitting teams like that, they’re going to make you pay.”

“The last two weeks we have squared an awful lots of balls up,” Vallee said. “We’ve had nine guys going good. One through nine right now is just seeing everything.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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