SKOWHEGAN — Zone 2 American Legion Baseball is looking like a league filled with parity. RTD of Madison was the last team to win a game this season. Five games later, all of them wins, and that same RTD team is in first place.

The latest win came Thursday evening at Memorial Field. RTD banged out 11 hits, including three apiece by Derek LeBlanc and Dylan Belanger, to defeat Post 51, 6-4.

“We’re doing the right things,” RTD coach Peter Kirby said. “We’re hustling. We’re finally hitting the ball, and that’s big. We’re backing up things. We’re doing the right things that you need to do to win.”

RTD, which represents Madison Post 39, is now in first place in Zone 2 at 5-3, just ahead of Franklin County (3-2) and Post 51 (4-3).

The 39ers worked like a boxer on offense — jabbing for runs in the first two innings, then exploding with big punches to score four runs in the bottom of the fourth. In the bottom of the first, LeBlanc bunted for a single, stole second, took third on Chase Nelson’s sacrifice bunt, and scored on Trevor Hisler’s sacrifice fly. In the second, RTD made it 2-0 on singles by Garrett Emery and Kam Nelson and John Swett’s RBI groundout.

RTD had two hits and a walk in the third, but a nice 9-3 double play by Post 51 right fielder Alex Chesley kept the score 2-0. But in the fourth, Kam Nelson and Swett singled, and Belanger singled home another run. Belanger, who played his high school ball at Class D Valley High School, is back in the Legion fold after playing Junior Legion two years ago.

“I mean, it’s my last year playing baseball,” Belanger said. “I want to get as much as I can.”

Belanger’s hit was followed by a sacrifice bunt by Cody Laweryson and doubles by LeBlanc and Chase Nelson to make it 6-0. At that point, it looked more like a potential mercy rule game than a battle for first place, but Post 51 reliever AJ Godin shut the door with 2 2/3 innings of shutout ball.

Post 51 has players from Messalonskee, Lawrence and Waterville, and Ray Bernier admits he and co-coach Rusty Mercier are still assessing the talent on the roster. Jake Dexter wasn’t available on Thursday, but there was still a deep bench and that point was brought home along with a few runs in the fifth inning. RTD pitcher Taylor Bacon was working on a one-hitter through four innings, but after Ben Frazee led off the fifth by reaching on an error, Reid Nutter pinch-hit a single, Zach Mathieu pinch hit a two-run double, and Godin lined a single to make it 6-3.

“That was good to actually see them do what they did to come back and put some runs up on the board,” Bernier said. “We were able to quickly put in three subs in a row that were (high) caliber players. That obviously is beneficial, too.”

Laweryson made a tough sliding catch in right field for an out, but Joe LeClair ripped a double to score Godin from first. With the score 6-4, Devin Warren reached on an error but was gunned down trying to steal by Emery.

Bacon was still at only 58 pitches after Post 51’s rally, and Kirby was probably determined to stay with him anyway. Post 51 got two on in the sixth before Bacon got out of the inning with a double play, and brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh before Bacon ended things with his second strikeout of the game.

“Anytime he’s pitching, it’s his game,” Kirby said. “We know he’s got what it takes to stay in there. Even though things get shaky, he’s got a big heart so we know he’s gonna get it done.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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