WATERVILLE — For a game between the two top teams in the standings, it lived up to the expectations. The only thing missing was a winner.

That part may — or may not — come later.

In probably the best game of the American Legion Zone 2 baseball season, first-place The Red Barn and second-place Post 51 were tied at 2 after eight innings when the game was suspended due to darkness. The game will be completed at a later date, but only if it has an impact on the playoff seedings. The play-in games for Zone 2 are July 17 and the Zone tournament is July 20-22.

With a win, The Red Barn could have all but clinched first place and the one bye into the Zone 2 tournament. The Red Barn is 11-3 and a win would have given the Augusta-based squad a 21⁄2-game lead with only three games remaining.

Meanwhile, Post 51 (8-4) could have closed within a game of The Red Barn with a win and also would have owned the tie-breaker by taking two of the three head-to-head matchups. Post 51 came agonizingly close to getting that win on two different occasions.

Post 51 scratched out a run in the bottom of the second when Isiah Fleming doubled, moved to third on Reid Nutter’s single and scored on a two-out infield single by Ryan Scott. Through seven innings, that was all the hosts got against Red Barn starter Jory Humphrey. With The Red Barn coming off doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday, coach Don Plourde needed a long outing from Humphrey and he got one. Humphrey went all eight innings, allowing two runs on nine hits and striking out seven.

“Unbelievable,” Plourde said. “He was a gamer today. He came to me in the eighth and looked at me (like), ‘Am I going back out?’” I said, ‘The only person that’s taking you out of this game is you.’ He said, ‘OK. Then I’m good.’ ”

Post 51’s Patrick Breton held off The Red Barn, with some help from his defense. In the third inning, Chandler Shostak drove one to the left field fence, bringing The Red Barn players to their feet and out of the dugout. Left fielder Zach Mathieu made the catch just before crashing into the fence. With Sean Cabaniss on second and two out in the fifth, Tayler Carrier smoked a line drive, but right to center fielder Devin Warren.

In The Red Barn seventh, Mitchell Caron got a one-out single when Warren missed a sliding catch after a long run and Cabaniss bunted pinch-runner Matt Delmar to second. Post 51 elected to intentionally walk Shostak, putting the go-ahead run on base with two out.

“Shostak had hit a ball to the fence,” Post 51 coach Tom Dexter said. “He had a grand slam Sunday. A lot of respect to him. He’s a great player. We know that. Let’s have somebody else that can step to the table and beat us, because we know he can.”

Dylan Hapworth relieved Breton at that point, and got Tayler Carrier, but Carrier was able to reach on an error. On the first pitch to Zack Lachance, the ball got through to the backstop as Delmar scooted home to tie the game.

The emotion continued in extra innings. With Post 51 going with its best available pitchers, The Red Barn scored again in the top of the eighth when Thomas Foster got a two-out single off Isiah Fleming for a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Hapworth led off with a double that bounced off the left-field fence on one hop, and Plourde also went against the book by intentionally walking Mathieu to put the winning run on base. Fleming (3 for 4) followed with an RBI single, but was out at second on the relay as Mathieu moved to third. After Reid Nutter was intentionally walked and stole second, Post 51 tried a suicide squeeze, but it was popped up for an inning-ending double play.

The game was called at that point. It was after 8 p.m., and the umpires were unsure that a full inning could be played before darkness.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
[email protected]

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