AUGUSTA — Every player in the starting lineup had at least one hit for Gardiner in the opening round of the American Legion Zone 2 baseball tournament Saturday and several had more than one.

Second-seeded Gardiner collected 19 hits in all en route to a 12-9 win against South China Subway at Morton Field.

“We got here and tried to get focused,” said Gardiner’s Spencer Allen, who had four hits and drove in four runs. “Because last year we got here and got killed the first game. We wanted to get out, score a lot of runs and put pressure on them.”

Gardiner meets Madison today as the tournament continues at the Piggery Road complex, while Post 51 faces Subway in an elimination game. Both games are at 11 a.m. The tournament concludes Monday with the winner advancing to the state tournament and the runner-up facing a play-in game.

Gardiner took a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning when Ben Crocker delivered a two-run single and Brady Dion and Jensen Orweiller each singled in a run. But South China kept battling against Gardiner starter Josh Martin. They scored three runs in the third inning and added four in the fifth, the big blow a three-run triple from Jory Humphrey, to take a 7-6 lead.

“I didn’t get the ball down enough,” Martin said of Humphrey’s hit. “I got lazy, that’s what happens.”

Tom Grady started the game for South China, but with a one-run lead manager Mark Bailey went to ace Shyler Scates. On his second pitch, Allen homered over the fence in right center to tie the game. Gardiner was aware Scates throws a lot of strikes and how he works the hitters.

“He works away a lot away so we had to get the idea to go the other way with the ball,” Gardiner manager Dan Burdin said. “Lefties were shooting it to left, righties were pounding that gap. Spencer had a perfect swing on that home run.”

Allen singled home two runs in the sixth to give Gardiner a 9-7 lead and he started a three-run rally in the eighth that produced four straight hits off Scates and a 12-9 lead. South China rallied for two runs in the ninth but it was too little, too late.

“We scored nine runs, normally nine runs wins you a ball game,” Bailey said. “But they hit the ball that well.”

Crocker added three hits for Gardiner while Mike Phelps and Ian Lane each doubled twice. Keith Cloutier and Ryan Pulver had two hits apiece for South China.

“That’s probably the best hitting, one through nine, we’ve had all year long,” Burdin said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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