Gardiner will open the American Legion baseball state tournament today against Zone 5 runner-up Kennebunk at The Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach. Gardiner coach Dan Burdin knows little about Kennebunk, and even less about The Ballpark.

“I’ve never even been there. I don’t even know how to get there yet,” Burdin said. “I was told I went to a Huey Lewis concert there. I wasn’t even born yet. I was in the womb. I guess that was the last time I was at The Ballpark.”

The Gardiner-Kennebunk game is at 11 a.m., while the other play-in game, between Brewer and Windham, starts at 3 p.m.

With a win, Gardiner will advance to the double-elimination part of the tournament, which begins Wednesday at the same site. Gardiner would open with Zone 1 champion Bangor at 7 p.m., Wednesday.

Burdin said he’ll scout Kennebunk by researching on the Portland Press Herald website. Kennebunk draws from only Kennebunk High School.

“It’s kind of like playing one of the teams around here for the first time,” Burdin said.

As far as pitching, Burdin says he can’t coach with one eye on winning and one eye on aligning his pitching for Wednesday.

“If we can’t get through Saturday, it doesn’t matter,” Burdin said. “We’ll use the whole arsenal on Saturday. We’ll worry about Wednesday on Wednesday.”

On the surface, it looks like Gardiner is in better shape pitching-wise. Gardiner has not played since Monday, while Kennebunk had games on Wednesday and Thursday. Kennebunk lost 10-2 to Fayette/Staples on Thursday in the Zone 5 championship game.

But of course, you could have said the same thing on Monday afternoon, when Gardiner needed one win and Post 51 had to use three pitchers on short rest. Post 51 won both games and the Zone 2 tournament, putting Gardiner in the play-in game.

“I think the kids were knocked down a couple notches on Monday, which is a good thing,” Burdin said. “I think they thought we’d show up Monday and win pretty easily. They realize they’ve got to play hard, and do what they have to do.”

Kennebunk coach Bob Nutter — whose son Rob played for Thomas College this spring — said he can go with either Tommy Snell or Nick Emmons, his second and third starters. Snell pitched three innings on Thursday, and No. 1 starter Taylor Landry threw nine innings on Wednesday. Landry is available for limited duty, Nutter said.

“I would bring (Taylor) in to win the game,” Nutter said. “We’re going after this like it’s the seventh game of the World Series.”

Gardiner will likely go with either Josh Martin or Spencer Allen, both of whom tossed complete-game victories in the Zone 2 tournament.

Kennebunk’s offense starts with leadoff batter Bobby Ecklund, with Emmons, Landry, and Ned Richards batting in the middle of the order. Gardiner’s top five in the order throughout the Zone 2 tournament were Kyle Fletcher, Ben Crocker, Jim Theriault, Dennis Meehan, and Allen.

“We’ll be ready,” Nutter said. “I think the kids are excited.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]


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