For the second time this season, South China and Augusta will face off in a game that will feel more like a reunion than a showdown.

Several players who will be at Morton Field this evening were on the Augusta Babe Ruth team that made three straight regional tournament appearances from 2016-18. For Augusta, the alums include Kyle Douin, Riley Geyer, Bobby Stolt and Akira Warren. For South China, the list includes Nick Barber, Luke Anderson and Bryce Goff.

The teams are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

And South China coach Thad Barber, himself a coach from that Babe Ruth team, expects there to be a different feel to the game.

“It’s going to be a blast,” he said. “They know it’s coming, and it certainly was fun last time. … Tomorrow should be really fun that way.”

South China beat Augusta 3-1 last Tuesday, but that was with Nick Barber and Warren away for AAU commitments.


“This time, everyone will be there,” Barber said. “I’m so happy for these boys to be able to play against each other and keep that going.”

Coach Barber said it wasn’t easy for the group to split up after last summer, and that they originally explored ways to keep playing together.

“There was one point this spring that we were trying to put together a Legion team of just those boys,” he said. “(But) the team I’m coaching now, the coaching staff left, so it couldn’t work out. … I think in the back of our mind, we all thought that it might be over.”

Instead, they’ll meet in opposing dugouts.

“We all know the players’ tendencies, their spray chart, hitting chart,” Coach Barber said. “It certainly adds to it.”

The players also go against each other during the high school season, and Coach Barber said a friendly rivalry could soon set in.


“Maybe that will come. Most of these boys have three more years of Legion after this,” he said. “So yeah, it will become a rivalry, I’m sure.”

• • •

South China’s been led so far by Chandler Moore, a former Erskine pitcher and shortstop. Moore has picked up four of the team’s 14 hits and scored three of its four runs, in addition to picking up its only win on the mound.

“He’s the first one at every practice, he’s the first one at every game,” Coach Barber said. “He’s the guy out there talking to players as things go bad. He’s the first one to try to pick everyone up.”

Moore was a slick fielder with the Eagles, but Barber said the offensive production has been a surprise.

“In the past, his defense and his pitching have been excellent, but his hitting has really improved,” he said. “He’s really not sure where it came from. … He’s our best hitter right now, on-base percentage, steals. Just an all-around player.”


Barber said that Moore put work into his weight training during the season.

“He hit the gym, he’s in great shape,” he said. “He was a kid who was in good shape, but now you see him and it’s evident he’s put on a ton of muscle.”

• • •

For Skowhegan and coach Rod Stevens, there’s been a revolving door behind home plate.

Messalonskee catcher Carter Lambert was going to take the job, until an injury from the high school season took him out of the running. Next up was Waterville’s Dan Gaunce, who made it until the third inning of the second game — and the first of a Saturday doubleheader — before he hurt his shoulder.

That gave the job to Zeb Tibbetts, who had never caught for Skowhegan Legion, but who nonetheless handled the remaining 11 innings on Saturday — even after getting his hand cut on a catcher’s interference in the process.

“His reaction was he’ll do what he (needs). He loves to play baseball,” said Stevens, who added that Tibbetts has been one of the team’s best hitters along with Matthew Berry. “He gutted it out, and we got through the day. We just don’t want to do that every day, that’s for certain.”

The backstop swapping will continue. Stevens is calling up catcher Nate Bickford from the Messalonskee Loons Junior Legion team for the Saturday doubleheader with Bangor, but Tibbetts will miss Tuesday’s game with Farmington, forcing Stevens to find another answer if Gaunce isn’t able to go.

“I’ve got to check with Dan and see how he’s feeling,” Stevens said. “He said he’d be good to go.”

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