BANGOR — Often by Day 4 of a long baseball tournament, it’s a chore for a manager to cobble together the pitching to get through a game. That makes what Messalonskee did Monday afternoon against Fairfield Post 14 even more impressive.

A trio of pitchers needed just 62 pitches to advance the Loons with a 6-0 victory at Mansfield Stadium. Starter Andrew Mayo and relief pitchers Dylan Cunningham and Ben Hellen combined on the three-hit shutout. Messalonskee moves on to Tuesday’s championship round at 5 p.m., where it will face either Hampden or Cheverus. Post 14 was eliminated.

For Messalonskee, advancing this far in the state tournament is a bonus. The Loons played just over .500 ball in the regular season and are peaking at the right time.

“We have a lot of chemistry. We’re all buddies, I guess. That goes a long way in baseball,” Messalonskee catcher Carter Lambert said.

It was the relief effort of James Smith in Friday’s opening round win that set up Messalonskee’s pitching effort Monday, manager Ray Bernier said.

“(Smith) went out and threw 90 pitches That really opened up the pitching opportunities we had for today,” Bernier said.

From the second inning until one out in the sixth, Mayo and Cunningham combined to retire 12 consecutive Fairfield hitters. The streak ended when Kody Vallee hit a single to center field.

“Cunningham, I didn’t use him a lot in the high school season, but he’s one of the biggest competitors I have. He made the pitch, and the defense was back there,” Bernier said.

Added Lambert: “Coach has been preaching trust the defense all year. That’s really what we did today. Throw strikes, and let the defense clean it up.”

Messalonskee scored a pair of runs in the first, when Cunningham scored on an error and Lambert scored on a fielder’s choice. The Loons added three runs in the second, the big hit a two-run triple by Lambert. Now 8 for 15 in the tournament with six runs batted in, Lambert was a home run short of the cycle.

“That’s not me,” Lambert said, laughing at his success at the plate. “I’m just seeing the ball really well, I guess. It’s a nice change.”

David Barre started for Fairfield on short rest and gave way to Jacob Ryder after two innings. Ryder had two of Post 14’s three hits, a single and double.

“We didn’t hit the baseball. We first pitch swung a lot. They’re a pretty sound defensive team, too,” Fairfield coach Rusty Mercier said. “We haven’t played well defensively throughout the tournament. As you progress in the tournament, you’ve got to play defense.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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