WATERVILLE — In American Legion Baseball, even a state champion can use an extra hand.

Post 51 is made up mainly of Messalonskee players who recently won the Class A state title. But players like Isiah Fleming, Blair Blaisdell, Matt Woodbury, and Josh Doolan all contributed Tuesday as Post 51 won its season opener with a 7-2 victory over visiting Waterville at Thomas College.

Blaisdell and Woodbury are high school graduates and Post 51 veterans back for another year. Each had a hit against Waterville. Doolan came on in the sixth and manufactured an insurance run with his speed, while Fleming played three positions, went 3 for 3, and got the final five outs for the save.

Fleming plans to play for Thomas next spring and said Terriers coach Greg King wanted him to keep playing this summer. In the spring, Fleming played for a Lawrence team that finished 1-15.

“Lawrence didn’t exactly do the best this year, so I’m kind of stepping up my game,” Fleming said.

Fleming was part of a three-run rally in the second and a two-run burst in the third that gave Post 51 a 5-0 lead. In the second, Zack Mathieu hit a triple to dead center field, and Jake Dexter lined one into the left-center field gap for a double. Post 51 finished with 10 hits, most of them stinging line drives.

“We hit some ropes, which is always a good sign,” Post 51 coach Paul Jacobs said.

There were an unusual number of fine defensive plays on both sides. Waterville left fielder Mark Beckim made a nice catch one step from the fence on Sam Dexter’s deep drive. Waterville first baseman JT Whitten made an over-the-shoulder catch of a popup, and Beavers shortstop Tyler Bouchard robbed Devin Warren of a hit in the bottom of the fifth.

Still, Warren had the highlight of the night. In the top of the fifth, Waterville got within 5-1 when Lance Lefebvre singled home Brian Bellows. Whitten then crushed a 1-0 pitch to deep center field. Warren sprinted toward right-center and made the catch almost parallel to the ground to end the inning.

Post 51 led 6-2 in the sixth when starting pitcher Reid Nutter had to come out with a 1-1 count on AJ Godin. Nutter allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings, and with his team out of substitutes, Nutter stayed in the game at first base.

“A little tweak there,” Jacobs said. “Hopefully, it’s nothing. He’ll put some ice on it and we’ll check it tomorrow.”

Fleming, a hard-throwing lefty, was effective in the closer role. He gave up a single to Whitten and walked Bouchard, but struck out four of the other five batters he faced.

Eli Fitzgerald is Waterville’s new coach, and the Beavers had eight subs on Tuesday — which would have been about five or six games’ worth of subs for Waterville last summer. Fitzgerald said there are a lot of pitchers who can start, including Whitten, Bellows, and Lance Lefebvre.

“Turnout this year was awesome,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a little late coming. Some of them didn’t sign up until yesterday or the day before. We’ve got a lot of younger kids, which is awesome, to get them some playing time.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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