AUGUSTA — Wednesday evening’s Zone 2 American Legion Baseball game between Gardiner and The Red Barn was a chess match. It had a few chances for redemption. It was a marathon. A slugfest that was finally clinched by a stellar relief performance.

Gardiner lefty Kyle Fletcher was the star in relief. He pitched the final 3 2/3 innings and did not allow a hit as Gardiner clawed back for a 7-6 victory at Morton Field.

The Red Barn, which represents Augusta Post 205, scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning on two hits — including a two-run single by Zack Lachance — and a host of physical and fundamental errors by Gardiner. The visitors rebounded with four hits in the top of the second and four more in the third to take a 5-4 lead. Alex Curtis went 3 for 3 for Gardiner, while Jim Theriault, Mario Meucci, Ian Lane, and DJ McHugh each had two hits.

“After the second inning, we had made nine errors in nine innings,” Gardiner coach Dan Burdin said. “So we had a little talk in the dugout, and just tried to hit the ball. Obviously, down 4-0, that’s pretty easy to turn it in if you want to. But (it’s a) good group of guys, and best we’ve hit the baseball all year long.”

Burdin said that with a larger roster than in years past, Gardiner has been switching around its starting lineup with the goal of winning and still getting everyone a good amount of playing time. Jensen Orewiler, for instance, didn’t play Tuesday, but caught and batted cleanup against The Red Barn. The one reserve Gardiner used was Nick Berube, who pinch-hit in the seventh and scored the winning run.

Before that, The Red Barn tied things up at 5-5 in the third, and went ahead 6-5 in the fourth. In that inning, The Red Barn had runners on first and third with one out and Lachance at the plate. Chandler Shostak tried to get in a rundown to let Sean Cabaniss score from third, but Gardiner let Shostak steal second (one of six stolen bases for the hosts in the game).

Gardiner then intentionally walked Lachance (2 for 3, 2 RBIs) to load the bases and set up a lefty-lefty matchup with Fletcher and Jory Humphrey. It almost worked, but after falling behind 0-2, Humphrey fouled off a couple pitches, then was hit by a 2-2 pitch to force in the go-ahead run.

Gardiner got that run back in the sixth when Fletcher walked and went all the way to third on Dalton Therrien’s sacrifice bunt when third base was left unattended. Fletcher then scored on Theriault’s one-out single to left field.

In the seventh, McHugh was up with Berube in scoring position and two out. McHugh had been robbed of at least two RBIs in the fifth, when left fielder John Suga made a sprawling catch of his sinking line drive with the bases loaded and two down. This time, McHugh bounced a single just under the glove of pitcher Bobby Cumler and into center field for an RBI single.

Lachance had last pitched Saturday, so there was a possible opportunity for The Red Barn coach Don Plourde to go for the short-tern gain and go with Lachance for a few innings in relief on three days’ rest. Plourde said he much prefers Lachance, or any pitcher, getting more rest than that.

“It’s a long season, and during the high school season, he never pitched on less than six days’ rest,” Plourde said. “It’s not fair to kids. It’s just not worth it.”

Lincoln County 7, Post 51 2: Jason Weatherbee pitched a complete-game three-hitter and struck out nine as Lincoln County picked up its first win of the season, in Newcastle.

Ryan Ripley had a two-run homer for Lincoln County (1-2). Devin Grover was 2 for 4 with a double.

Post 51 is 1-1.

Madison 7, The First 1: Trevor Hisler and Connor Jarvais each hit two-run singles as part of a five run seventh inning, helping Madison take the win in Rockland.

Chase Whittemore had a pair of hits for Madison (2-2), while Kameron Nelson struck out four in five innings for the win.

The First is now 2-1.

 

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