AUGUSTA — It all looked so perfect. Augusta led by five runs in the sixth inning. Ace Ryan Minoty was on the mound and was cruising. Corey Lapierre had already hit two home runs.

But when Minoty finally tired under a heavy workload, Augusta had nowhere else to turn. Gayton Post ended the game with 14 straight runs and defeated Augusta 15-6 on Sunday afternoon at Morton Field for its second consecutive American Legion baseball state tournament championship.

Augusta, which had 59 runs on 57 hits in the first four games of the tournament, had only five hits on Sunday. Gayton, after rallying for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to knock off Brewer 8-7 in Sunday’s early game, used pitchers Corbin Hyde and Luke Cote to contain Augusta’s powerful offense.

Hyde went six innings and threw 120 pitches. After Gayton demoralized Augusta with six runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-6 lead, Cote pitched the final three innings and allowed no runs on one hit.

“We wanted to get Hyde’s pitch count up,” Augusta coach Ray Vallee said. “We tried to drive it up, hoping to get in the bullpen, thinking that maybe we’d be able to explode for our patented big inning. And outside of Corey Lapierre putting a charge into a couple, we were pretty anemic offensively.”

Lapierre’s first homer, a three-run shot just over the right-field wall, broke a scoreless tie. But it was Lapierre’s second home run that sent everyone rooting for Augusta into ecstasy.

That came in the top of the sixth and made it 6-1, and a five-run lead with Minoty on the mound seemed insurmountable. Even though Minoty was overworked out of necessity (110 pitches on Wednesday, 64 on Friday and what would be 152 on Sunday for 326 pitches in five days), he had allowed a total of one hit over his last nine innings as Gayton came to bat in the bottom of the sixth.

Cote led off by reaching on an error, but Minoty quickly got Alex Parker for the first out. That was followed by a soft single by Mekae Hyde and an anything-but-soft three-run homer to left by Corbin Hyde, bringing Gayton within 6-4.

That one hit seemed to pop Augusta’s balloon. One out later, Keene doubled, Joe Sullivan walked and Trey Ouellette singled home a run. Then No. 9 batter Chris Madden doubled down the right-field line, and Gayton led 7-6.

Augusta’s body language changed after that point.

“You could tell that they were down,” said Corbin Hyde, who was named the tournament’s Most Valubale Player. “They weren’t talking as much. I was still nervous, though, because I know they’re a good-hitting team.”

Minoty gave up three more runs in the seventh, the last two on a two-out homer by Jeff Keene. In the eighth, Gayton got a walk and then four straight hits with two out before Minoty went to the outfield with the score 15-6.

But if Minoty was clearly spent, so was Augusta’s pitching staff. Zac Lachance is away at camp, and Jake Beland has a sore arm, so everyone had to pitch more than the Augusta coaches would have liked. When Minoty left the mound, the reliever was Luke Duncklee, who had allowed 11 runs in 3 1/3 innings in the tournament.

“We asked way too much out of that kid (Ryan) today,” Vallee said. “He just ran out of gas, and we didn’t have anybody to go to. We had used up everybody this week.”

Gayton, in contrast, had fresh arms available to throw a few innings at a time, and coach Todd Cifelli said that was a season-long process.

“All year, we’ve tried to develop pitchers, and work with pitchers on the side,” Cifelli said. “People made a big deal of us having a lot of games won by the 10-run rule, but we still threw guys on the side.

“We told them their time was coming — whether they believed us or not — and there they were pitching in the first game (of the tournament). I’m confident that no pitcher was overworked. We worked a plethora of pitchers.”

Augusta’s Minoty, Duncklee, Lapierre, Jason Burns and Nick Lucas all made the all-tournament team. Augusta won 20 games in a row during the season, and fell just one win short of the regional tournament.

“The beauty of this team is, they were just quality human beings,” Vallee said. “All these kids are going to go on to be successful. As these kids move on, it doesn’t mean that the relationships end. Most of these kids, we’re either going to be following at the next level, or they’re going to be friends of the coaches for the rest of their lives.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]