BANGOR — With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, Post 51 coach Rusty Mercier talked to Jake Dexter before he stepped to the plate. What do you think about bunting, Mercier asked his leadoff hitter.

“He said ‘Nah, I’ll get a fly ball.’ Then he gets a ground ball. In that situation, you always want to go with what they’re comfortable with, and he wanted to swing the bat, so we went with it,” Mercier said.

Dexter’s ground ball was a scalding hit down the third base line that went off the glove of Coffee News third baseman Ben Crichton, scoring Devin Warren with the run that gave Post 51 a 4-3 win and the Zone 1 American Legion championship.

“It’s cool, but it’s not really what we want to do,” Dexter said, alluding Post 51’s goal of a state title.

Both teams advance to the state tournament, which begins Wednesday at the Wainwright Complex in South Portland. Post 51 will play Zone 2 runner-up Tri-Town at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Coffee News of Bangor will face Zone 2 winner Bessey Motors at 3:30 p.m.

Trailing 3-2, Post 51’s Dylan Hapworth led off the bottom of the ninth with a double to center field. Warren hit an infield single. Jonathan Wilkie reached on a throwing error on his sacrifice bunt, scoring Hapworth with the tying run. Bangor intentionally walked Trevor Gettig to load the bases.

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After a Jared Cunningham strikeout, Dexter came to the plate, and Post 51 had its third win in two days.

“Mentally, coming back and winning that game really helps our kids,” Mercier said. “It was a team effort. The last two days it’s been that way. We’ve really won with our roster, not just nine guys.”

Post 51 took an early 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second innings. In the first, Dan Pooler scored when Zach Mathieu’s pop up fell between Bangor second baseman Johnny Cote and right fielder Jordan Derrah. In the second, Warren led off with a single, stole second base, and went to third on a throwing error before scoring on Cody Martin’s groundout to short.

A.J. Godin, who pitched 8 1/3 innings on Thursday night, got the start for Post 51, and was strong for five innings before allowing three runs in the sixth. Andrew Hillier led off with a single, and Godin hit Peter Kemble. After a Marcus McCue sacrifice bunt, Kyle Stevenson hit a two-run single to tie the game. Stevenson later scored on a wild pitch, and Bangor had a 3-2 lead.

“A.J.’s one of those kids, he does OK on short rest,” Mercier said. “Honestly, five innings is what we were thinking. We got six. Maybe we got one too long.”

Post 51 went to Dexter, who hadn’t pitched since the high school season for Messalonskee. Dexter threw three scoreless innings to earn the win.

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“Jake hadn’t thrown at all this year, so we said let’s take a look at him,” Mercier said.

Added Dexter: “It’s been a while. I felt all right. I got some outs.”

Bangor starter Hillier went five innings before Nick Cowperthwaite took over. After Hapworth’s double to lead off the ninth, Bangor coach Dave Morris went to Jesse Colford, who took the loss.

“It was a good game for us. We made some mistakes and put ourselves in the situation where we gave them a couple runs, but they’re a great baseball team. We knew we had to play our best baseball,” Morris said.

Stevenson had three hits for Bangor, including a triple in the second inning. For Post 51, Warren had three hits.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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