WATERVILLE — One of the many interesting things about baseball is that an ace pitcher can magically turn a game between the last-place team and the league leader into an even matchup.

Augusta starting pitcher Zack Lachance did that Thursday evening.

Post 51 is in first place in American Legion Baseball Zone 2, and hosted Augusta at Thomas College. Lachance hog-tied Post 51 for five innings, but the hosts eventually broke through, and Reid Nutter threw a six-hit shutout as Post 41 held on for a 3-0 victory.

“I think we just have good hitters,” Post 51 coach Tom Dexter said. “Facing a good pitcher like Lachance, you get up three or four times, you’re going to get him once or twice.”

“I’ve faced that kid my whole life — Little League, Babe Ruth,” Nutter said. “It’s been a battle, constantly.”

Post 51 (8-1) scored a run in the bottom of the first inning when Jake Dexter singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and came in on Blair Blaisdell’s single. But for a while, it looked like that would be it. Lachance kept the batters off balance and had them fishing for pitches out of the strike zone. He struck out three batters — all looking, and all in key spots.

“He was getting ahead of guys, keeping the ball down, hitting his spots with his fastball, curveball,” Augusta coach Don Plourde said. “He did a nice job against a good-hitting lineup. That’s the way Zack’s pitched all year — high school and Legion. It was fun to watch.”

Post 51 had three baserunners in the second, but Lachance picked off two of them. In the fourth, Matt Woodbury was on second when Zach Mathieu beat out a roller to third base, but Augusta third baseman Matt Plourde held the ball and, with the help of shortstop Tucker Whitman, got Woodbury in a rundown to end the inning.

That was a revenge of sorts for Plourde, because Woodbury, while catching for Post 51, picked Plourde off second to end the Augusta third. That was one of three times Augusta (1-8) got two baserunners in the same inning, but no one ever got past second. Nutter had a lot of advantages on his side — a fine defense, great command, and a big ballpark — and he used all of them.

“He was on his game tonight,” Dexter said. “His fastball was popping. He has an excellent change-up. He was mixing a curve in. He’s a battler. When it comes down late in the count, he executes pitches, and that’s what gets out.”

Post 51 scored its final two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Sam Dexter led off with a bullet off the pitcher’s mound, and he hustled that into a double when no one covered second. Dexter came home on two wild pitches, and Woodbury walked and scored on Mathieu’s single up the middle.

“We’re in every game,” Plourde said. “We’re just a hit or two away from maybe getting three, four, five, six runs. That’s baseball.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

 

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