BANGOR — The Augusta Summit Real Estate American Legion team had to play one game to extend its season Tuesday, then had to head back out and play another one hour later. All for the chance to play the very next day.

That’s nothing new in the American Legion state tournament, where the list of games to get in is long, and the window to play them all isn’t.

“It kind of feels like one big, continuous game, where you finish one game, go home, go to sleep, wake up, boom. Next game’s there,” Augusta catcher and pitcher Kyle Douin said. “(Then) next game, next game, next game. You’ve just got to keep your head up, not overlook any opponent and just play baseball.”

It’s the nature of any double elimination format, and the American Legion tournament is no exception. The tournament this year is taking place in the span of six days — it would have been five, but one was washed out — so teams face the prospect of multiple games in a day and few opportunities for rest.

It’s the toll to pay to be in position for the championship. Central Maine, for instance, played two games Wednesday, falling to Motor City 8-6 before defeating Augusta 3-2 in an elimination game immediately after. That put the River Kings in Thursday’s championship, where they will have to beat Motor City twice in order to prevail.

It’s worth it. But that doesn’t make it easy.

“It’s really that end of the season grind, too, because we’ve had our full high school season,” Central Maine shortstop Reid Gagnon said. “Now we’re at the end of our summer season, and we’re just piling the games on. It hurts the body after a couple of games.”

Augusta pitcher and third baseman Bobby Stolt had just finished pitching five innings in his team’s 6-2 victory over Bessey Motors on Tuesday, its second win of the night, when he was asked whether the format can be demanding.

“It definitely is,” Stolt said. “We’ve been here since 2:30ish, so it’s definitely very draining, especially with these hot days, the turf is even hotter, we’re running out of pitching as we go. It’s definitely really hard to manage.”

Playing multiple games in a day is nothing unusual for Legion players. But with a championship on the line, the games are more intense, and in a tournament they start to stack up.

It’s not just loser’s bracket teams that face the grind. Even undefeated Motor City will play its third contest in four days in the final Thursday — and that can become four games if the Bangor-based team loses and has to play again later that afternoon.

“During the regular season, we play doubleheaders on Saturday, so we’re a little bit used to it,” Douin said. “But there’s nothing that can compare to a tournament game like this.”

Douin said a player’s adrenaline can take over when the game is in progress. It’s in between games where they need to try to fight the fatigue, be it mental or physical.

“During the games there’s a lot going on, so you’re pretty energetic, upbeat,” he said. “In between games, that’s when things can kind of go south, you sit down for a while.”

Central Maine catcher Nate Bickford, center, and pitcher James Smith (24) react to Motor City’s Matt Seymour being called safe at the plate during the American Legion Senior Baseball Tournament on Wednesday at Husson University in Bangor. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Challenging as the tournament can get physically, it can be just as tough from a strategic standpoint. Coaches have to be careful with their pitching staffs, making sure they work within pitch count rules. Inevitably, a team’s depth on the mound is going to be tested.

Going through the loser’s bracket makes it even tougher. Augusta coach Jason Douin said he had a plan that he had to tweak after an early loss to Central Maine.

“Our gameplan was that we thought we had four really good pitchers, so we were going to go 60 (pitches) with everybody,” he said. “Day 1, that’s what we did.”

With Augusta needing to win starting Tuesday in order to keep its season going, however, and with the end of the tournament approaching, Coach Douin said everyone became available.

“It (became) ‘run them out,’ because there’s no more time to rest them or bring them back,” he said. “We ran (Brayden) Barbeau out, we ran Bobby out. … You don’t have enough time to rest the arms.”

It’s difficult. But for the players involved, it’s worth it.

“It’s definitely nice to be playing every day,” Gagnon added. “It’s fun. We’re out here because we love to play, so it’s always a bonus when we get to play extra baseball.”

The two weary teams met in the late game Wednesday, with Central Maine moving ahead 2-1 in the sixth when Zach Nickerson’s single scored Hunter McEwen. Augusta fought back, with Akira Warren scoring on a wild pitch to tie the game in the top of the seventh, but the River Kings had a final rally in store when Matthew Perry drew a walk, advanced to third on a wild pitch and groundout, and scored when Jake Thomas’s hard line drive up the middle hit off a glove and fell safely.

Now Central Maine is in a position where it will be hoping to play four games in two days. Told of that prospect, coach Rusty Mercier gave a slight smile.

“It’s a cliche, but we talked about one at a time,” he said. “I’m sure that, if we do win, momentum will be with us hopefully for that second game. … We have enough pitching to get through it. It’s just a matter of if we execute and how we do.”

Thomas sounded like he was ready to play those two games right away.

“It feels great,” he said. “I’m just so happy to be there. Especially to get there like this, it’s great.”

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