MADISON — The playoff picture for Zone 2 American Legion Baseball will extend past the final day of the regular season, which was supposed to be Monday. But RTD can relax. Whenever the season ends, and whenever the tournament starts, they are in first place.

RTD, which represents Madison Post 39, clinched that spot in part by beating The First 7-2, on Monday evening. Combined with Franklin County’s loss to The Red Barn, that puts RTD in first place with an 11-4 record.

“It’s a step, but we’ve still got a long ways to go,” said RTD third baseman Kam Nelson, who went 3 for 3 with two doubles on Monday. “Anything can happen in the playoffs. We’ve just got to be ready to play.”

RTD ace Taylor Bacon went six innings for the win. Bacon was in trouble early, but got out of the first two innings with only one run thanks to two pickoffs — one by him and another by catcher Garrett Emery. Bacon departed after 99 pitches and Chase Nelson worked a scoreless seventh.

“Taylor threw a lot of pitches,” Madison coach Peter Kirby said. “We don’t want to use him up that bad, because we’re going to use him Saturday. We needed Chasey to get a little work too. If we knew that we’d be in first to begin with, then we would have probably pitched everybody.”

The 39ers are without cleanup hitter D.J. Allen (Lobster Bowl) but still had four doubles among their seven hits. In the first inning, Derek LeBlanc led off with a bunt single, and a double by Trevor Hisler, a sacrifice fly by Emery, and a well-placed single by Chase Nelson added up to two runs.

RTD added two more in the fourth on Kam Nelson’s leadoff double, a sacrifice fly by Dalton Stevens, and Chase Malloy’s innovative “get to third on a three-base error and score on a wild pitch” move. Nelson knocked in three more runs in the fifth with a bases-loaded double.

“I felt like I was hitting the ball real well today,” Nelson said. “I haven’t been really hitting consistent all year. Even in college, I wasn’t hitting at all. So it’s finally good to get it all together.”

RTD had already clinched one of the two byes to the Zone 2 tournament, which is scheduled to be played Saturday through Monday in Skowhegan. The four teams that do not get byes square off in play-in games at the higher seed (3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5), which are scheduled for Thursday.

Franklin County could have clinched the other bye with The First’s loss to RTD, but the Flyers lost 7-6 Monday when The Red Barn scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning.

That puts Franklin County at 8-5 and The First at 6-7. The teams are scheduled to play in Rockland on Tuesday and Wednesday. Franklin earns the bye if it wins either game. If The First sweeps, it gets the bye by virtue of winning the season series. Franklin and The First were supposed to play a doubleheader on Sunday, but could not get umpires.

“We have good pitching lined up,” The First coach Bob Wolff said. “We’ll come back. We’ll play good mental baseball (Tuesday) and we’ll hit the ball hard. We’ll be ready for them.”

When the teams will get those games in is up in the air. Yahoo! Weather forecasts a 60 percent chance of rain in Rockland on Tuesday and an 80 percent chance on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t look promising,” Franklin coach Kyle Gunzinger said.

Moreover, the games need to be played in order to finish the regular season. Teams need 18 games to qualify for the state tournament, and with the Zone 2 regular season lasting only 15 games, there’s a chance the champion and runner-up of the Zone 2 tournament won’t hit 18 games without playing the entire regular season.

Still, Franklin, like The First, has a chance to control its own destiny, which is all those teams can ask at this point.

“We’ve put ourselves in pretty good shape,” Gunzinger said. “I’m pretty proud of how the kids have played.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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