​BY GARY HAWKINS

AUGUSTA — Augusta’s bats came alive Sunday as the host team avoided elimination in the New England Regional Babe Ruth tournament.

Augusta banged out 14 hits in downing St. Johnsbury, Vermont, 15-4 in a game shortened to six innings due to the 10-run mercy rule..

Augusta went 1-2 in the pool play portion of the tournament and will face Maine champion Tri-County at 3 p.m., today in a single-elimination game. St. Johnsbury went 0-3 in the tournament.

Sunday’s win ended a four-game losing streak for Augusta that included the final two games of the state tournament.

“We just knew that we were going to somehow click and turn things around,” winning pitcher Kyle Douin said. “We’ve been killing it but hitting it right where they are.”

Augusta jumped on Vermont starter Brendan Walker for a pair of runs in the first inning as Akira Warren, Douin and Bobby Stolt led off the game with base hits. The host team broke the game open with five runs on three hits and a pair of St. Johnsbury errors in the third.

“It feels excellent, like a burden’s lifted off,” Augusta catcher Eli Bezanson said. “We’ve had some tough close losses. We had one spot we were weak in every game. The game plan today was we were swinging the bats well, just eliminate the mental errors.”

Despite building an early lead, Augusta struggled on the mound. Douin breezed through the first inning, fanning two batters and picking Finn Rooney off second base. But he walked three batters in the second inning and gave up an infield hit to Isaiah Priest as St. Johnsbury tied the game at 2.

“I just wasn’t finishing,” Douin said. “I was standing tall, but when I did throw a strike I was finishing.”

Douin left in the fourth inning after throwing 73 pitches which left him eligible to pitch Tuesday under tournament rules. Riley Geyer pitched a couple of innings before Ian Stebbins finished up. The three combined for 145 pitches and 10 walks, but allowed just two hits, both to Priest, who batted 10th in the order. The good news is the team has three top pitchers in Warren, Stolt and Logan Dupont available to pitch today against Tri-County.

“Moving forward we can’t give free passes like we did today,” Augusta manager Jason Douin said. “We’re fortunate we’ve got five good pitchers. When they’re on, they’re hard to hit.”

Augusta scored five runs on five hits, including back-to-back doubles from Bezanson and Lucas Anderson in the top of the fifth to take a 13-2 lead. Warren, Douin, Stolt and Bezanson had two hits apiece while Anderson, batting seventh, singled twice and doubled, driving in four runs.

“Lucas came up really big today,” Jason Douin said. “He’s been injured. First game of the state tournament he injured his ankle and has kind of been limited in action. He’s just getting his groove back. He’s our anchor at third, he plays a great third base. We’re definitely glad to have him back in the lineup.”

St. Johnsbury didn’t go quietly, scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth to make it 13-4 and push the game to another inning. Augusta put it away with a pair of runs in the sixth when Cole Leclerc walked, Geyer singled and they scored on RBI hits from Anderson and Stebbins.

“Those first two games I think we just got too anxious,” Jason Douin said. “Some of the kids didn’t make the plays they were hoping to make and we end up just kind of losing our composure. Two games I think we should have won but today is a new day and tomorrow just continues the journey that we’re on.”

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