AUGUSTA — A zone tournament isn’t the place to revisit regular-season nightmares, but Augusta found itself doing just that on the final play of Thursday’s Zone 2 American Legion winners bracket game with Bessey Motors.

Brady LaFrance dashed home on a wild pitch during an intentional walk in the bottom of the ninth to give Bessey Motors a 4-3 win over Augusta, bouncing the host team into the losers bracket.

With the win, Bessey Motors, the top seed, advanced to the zone championship game on Friday afternoon and clinched a spot in the state tournament. Augusta will face Tri-Town, of Poland, at noon at Morton Field to clinch the zone’s second spot at states and play Bessey in the final, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Morton.

Bessey Motors (18-3) put runners at the corners with one out in the bottom of the ninth against Riley Boivin, so Augusta decided to put Riley Chickering on base to set up a force at any base. But Boivin’s first pitch attempt sailed high and off the glove of a leaping Tayler Carrier, who retrieved the ball behind him and dove for home plate to try to get a tag on LaFrance but was too late.

“Honestly, I thought (Carrier) caught it,” LaFrance said. “I took one step back, but when I saw the ball in the air, I knew I had it.”

“It happened to us a couple of weeks ago. We lost to Gardiner on the same exact play in the bottom of the seventh inning,” Augusta coach Tim Rodrigue said. “That’s twice with two different people involved. It happens.”

“They chose the right thing to do, I think, in the situation,” Bessey Motors coach Shane Slicer said of the intentional pass. “That’s a tough thing because … you don’t have a lot of practices during the season and in high school, you can just (tell the umpire to) put them on. That’s always a nightmare. It’s something you always think about when you go into that situation.”

Augusta put at least one baserunner on against Bessey Motors pitcher Bailey West in seven of the nine innings.

“We didn’t capitalize,” Rodrigue said. “We had plenty of opportunities to score runs and we didn’t pull them across. You can’t just blame it on that one play.”

West tossed a complete game, allowing two earned runs on seven hits while striking out six and walking four.

Augusta (14-7) had to rally to tie the game, 3-3, in the eighth on Carrier’s RBI single.

Kolbe Merfeld and Taylor Lockhart had two hits apiece for Augusta. Lockhart had a two-run double off West in the second inning to put the Elks up 2-0.

Augusta starter Thomas Foster stranded a pair of runners in the second thanks to a well-turned 6-4-3 double play, then cruised through the next three innings before finding trouble in the sixth.

Nick Bowie pulled Bessey to within one with an RBI single that chased Foster. Ray Mosca relieved Foster and ended that rally. Bessey got to him in the seventh, though, tying it on Jacob Spinhirn’s double and taking the lead on Nick Attaliades-Ryan’s single.

West allowed an unearned run in the eighth on Carrier’s single, then sent the Elks down in order in the ninth.

“Early in the game, I was kind of struggling a little bit. Later in the game, I was starting to zone in,” said West, who threw 115 pitches. “My curveball started working. It was really key there. Living on fastballs wasn’t going to get me through this game.”

“He settled in and started hitting his spots,” Slicer said. “He stranded a few guys and seemed to get them a little off-balance.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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