SOUTH PORTLAND — Staples Crossing shortstop Noah McDaniel understands the grind that can be the last two days of the double-elimination state American Legion tournament.

“We’re pretty deep into the tournament, so everybody’s kind of struggling for arms,” McDaniel said. “You really have to be patient at the plate, get your pitch, make them work and make them get deep in the count.”

McDaniel and Staples made Messalonskee Post 51 pitchers work while Staples pitcher Jake Lebel breezed through eight innings to eliminate the Zone 1 champions, 7-2, on Saturday at Wainwright Recreation Complex.

Lebel struck out six and walked one while allowing one earned run. He also reached base four times, doubled, scored a run and knocked in one. McDaniel reached four times without a hit and scored three runs as Post 51 pitching walked nine and plunked three to go with seven Staples hits.

“My bullpen was actually pretty shaky this morning, but right when I got out there, I mean, I was grooving it in the beginning. So I felt good,” Lebel said.

Lebel showed how good he felt retiring the first 10 in a row before allowing a double to Zach Mathieu. He eventually scored on a double steal, but Lebel went on to send down 11 straight before an error to start the eighth.

Lebel threw 10 innings during the high school season with Marshwood and eight during the Legion season.

“I really haven’t been this stretched out in a while,” said the 6-foot-5 righthander.

By contrast, Post 51’s pitching showed signs of being stressed out. Ben Frazee started and lasted two innings, followed by Danny Pooler and Jake Dexter for three apiece. Pooler and Dexter had to pitch the day before in the loss to Bangor Coffee News.

“I just felt like we ran out of gas,” Post 51 co-coach Rusty Mercier said.” I thought early in the game we had some chances to maybe do something offensively, but we just didn’t hit the baseball like we can. Pitching-wise, we looked like we were a little tired early, some sore arms.

“Give them credit. Their pitcher did a nice job and they had some timely hits,” Mercier added.

Staples Crossing (19-3) scored a run in the first on Cole McDaniel’s two-out single. It piled on four in the third, highlighted by Zack Quintal’s two-run single. Lebel added an RBI double in the fourth to make it 6-1.

Mathieu had two of Post 51’s three hits. Trevor Gettig had the other hit, an RBI single in the eighth.

Post 51 ends its season 20-8.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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