BANGOR — Bessey Motors was the best team in senior American Legion’s southern division this season.

If Saturday was any indication, that could pertain to the entire state, as well.

Ethan Cutler delivered a strong start and Bessey’s potent lineup delivered as the Oxford Hills-based team opened the state tournament with a 7-0 victory over Old Town-centered Quirk Motor City at Husson University.

Bessey, which reached the final of the state tournament last season, improved to 18-1 for the season and looked right at home in its first test against competition from the northern division.

“They were at ease today,” said coach Shane Slicer, whose team was also sharp defensively and turned two double plays. “They were confident, and that’s nice to see. It’s tough if it’s your first time here, getting on a big stage, you kind of get a little nervous at the beginning. I didn’t see any of that.”

No one looked more relaxed than Cutler, who threw six innings and allowed only two hits and one walk. He started the game by retiring the first nine hitters he faced, and allowed only singles to Joe D’Angelo in the fourth and Ben Southwick in the fifth.

“My coach was telling me just to throw strikes and let the defense work,” he said. “It’s a great feeling, just getting in your groove. It’s indescribable, you just get into it and you can’t really get out of it. It feels great.”

That rhythm was reflected in the pitch count; Cutler needed only 54 pitches to finish the six innings. He wasn’t dominant, only striking out two, but he stayed in the zone and kept Motor City from being able to work counts.

“Their pitcher wasn’t overpowering, but he mixed and matched and pounded the zone,” Motor City coach Cam Archer said. “He really kept us off balance.”

It took a little while, but Bessey’s offense soon came to life for its pitcher. In the third, Jonny Pruett walked, Cam Slicer (two hits) singled and, with two outs, Hunter LaBossiere lined a single to center that scored both runners to make it 2-0.

In the fourth, Bessey put the game out of reach. Wyatt Williamson and Pruett — the team’s No. 8 and 9 hitters — drew two-out walks, and Slicer hit a single that scored Williamson. Motor City had a chance to limit the damage when Rod Bean chopped a ball up the middle, but he beat the shortstop’s throw for a single while Pruett and Slicer scored to make it 5-0.

Coach Slicer called the infield single the key to the inning.

“(Bean) wasn’t hitting the ball real well, and all he did was dribble the ball and run his (behind) off,” he said. “That hustle got us two runs, just that hustle getting down the line. He brought something when he really wasn’t seeing it that well.”

Janek Luksza followed with his second hit of the game, a line drive that found the right-center field gap, hit the Husson turf and skidded all the way to the wall for a triple to score Bean.

“I think they scored six of their seven runs with two outs,” Archer said. “That kills teams. That buries teams.”

Bessey rounded out the scoring when Ashton Kennison led off the fifth with a triple to left and scored on a wild pitch.

“We just wanted to come in, score a lot of runs, get a lot of hits and just get it going,” Luksza said. “We’ve been playing good. We’ve just got to keep it up.”

Bessey will play Acadians, which beat Lewiston-based Pastime 6-2, today at 3 p.m. Motor City will play Pastime in an elimination game today at 10 a.m.

“We turn around and play another great team in Lewiston, another strong team from the south,” Archer said. “It’s just about having better approaches at the plate and getting guys to lock in mentally.”


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