BANGOR — In Wednesday afternoon’s game between Bessey Motors and Post 51, Bessey was definitely the aggressor. Bessey had 12 hits and always seemed to have runners on base. So what was the approach that made Bessey so successful?

“I think patience, really,” pitcher Riley Chickering said.

“Looking for that first pitch, and driving it somewhere in the outfield,” left fielder Zack Conley added.

Whatever approach the Bessey boppers tried, it seemed to work. Bessey took the lead for good in the second inning and Chickering threw a complete-game seven-hitter as Bessey took a 7-2 victory on the first day of the American Legion Baseball state tournament at the Winkin Complex at Husson University.

“They did their job,” Post 51 co-coach Ray Bernier said. “They hit the ball well and kept putting the pressure on our defense. And Chickering — heck, he really kept us way off balance. We just really couldn’t get in a good rhythm with him.”

Post 51 plays Staples Crossing of Eliot in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Thursday. Bessey faces Brewer in a winner’s bracket game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Brewer defeated Staples Crossing 4-1 in 10 innings in the tournament opener Wednesday.

Post 51 starting pitcher Devin Warren went the first three innings. He allowed three runs but still kept Post 51 in the game as Bessey left seven runners on base in those three innings. Warren was removed in favor of A.J. Godin to start the fourth inning after throwing 74 pitches.

“We talked a little bit before we took him out,” Bernier said. “It just seemed like his arm was a little dead.”

Bessey, the Zone 3 champion from South Paris, scored twice in the second inning on Conley’s bad-hop single and an RBI groundout. That lead became 3-0 in the top of the third when Conley drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs.

“He throws hard, and so when he’s missing up, that pitch is very easy to swing at. It’s very deceptive,” Chickering said. “So I think the key was our ability to lay off that pitch early in the game, get his pitch count up. Then a couple key hits here and there, and you’re in business.”

While the final score doesn’t show it, Post 51 got right back in the game in the bottom of the third. Trevor Gettig and Cody Martin started the inning with singles, and Warren bunted them over. One run scored on Zach Mathieu’s groundout, and Jake Dexter brought Post 51 within 3-2 with a two-out RBI single.

Godin kept Post 51 close with some excellent relief work, but Post 51 had only two baserunners over the next four innings. Chickering struck out six, but even more impressively, all seven of Post 51’s hits were singles.

“I know my fastball definitely isn’t overpowering to some of those better hitters,” Chickering said. “The key is, I have to throw those curveballs for strikes. Today, I was able to throw curveballs and sliders for strikes early in the count. Once you get up in the count with those pitches, they don’t know what’s coming.”

Bessey put things to rest in the eighth, scoring three runs with the help of Matt Smith’s two-run double on a misjudged fly ball. With the score now 6-2, Post 51 opened the eighth with a single by Warren. Mathieu then hit a hard grounder inside third base and down the line, but Conley came up throwing from left field, and his throw to third baseman Ty Martin cut down Warren for the first out.

“I (picked up) the ball right off the bat real well,” Conley said. “When I saw it get by Ty at third, I came up and I was gunning either way. Even if he wasn’t going to be there, I was throwing to third.”

While Warren’s gamble didn’t work out, it could be read as an encouraging sign. Missing from Post 51 was the swagger the players showed in the Zone 2 tournament. When Bernier was asked what Post 51 needed to do to bounce back on Thursday, he answered, “Play with energy.”

“We were really flat and dead today,” Bernier said. “I think the energy will carry over to what we need to do everywhere, from defense to hitting. It seemed like we didn’t have that normal desire that we have when it comes to playoff time.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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