AUGUSTA — Five area teams will play for the South zone championship in the American Legion junior baseball tournament this weekend.

The games will take place at the CARA complex in Augusta, with four teams moving on to the state tournament taking place next week in Bangor. Skowhegan is the top seed and gets a bye in Friday’s first round, which will feature 5 p.m. games between the fifth-seeded Capital Area Bombers and fourth-seeded Topsham Post 202, and second-seed Fairfield against No. 3 Ware Butler Eagles, which represents Messalonskee.

Skowhegan will play the winner of Capital Area and Topsham on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the second day of the double-elimination tournament, with the winner of that game playing the winner of Fairfield and Ware Butler Eagles at 2 p.m.

In between, at 11:30 a.m., will be the elimination game between the losers of the Friday games.

“The whole bracket, those five teams that are left, are all very competitive,” Fairfield coach Rusty Mercier said. “It will be difficult to get to that state tournament.”

Skowhegan got the top seed by going 13-3 during the season, sporting both a balanced lineup and a solid pitching staff led by starters Ben Morgan, Noah McMann and Silas Tibbetts.

“We’ve kind of done all facets of the game really well,” Skowhegan coach Corey Hight said. “Everybody’s done their part. There’s no one kid on the team that stands out. They all do their part, and that’s what it takes.”

The top seed guarantees Skowhegan a trip to the state tournament, since the elimination game that knocks one of the South zone teams out will be played before it plays its second game, and the bye allows Skowhegan to set up its pitching for both this tournament and the states.

“Pitching is always key, for everybody,” Hight said. “(The bye) saves us one pitcher. It’s a double-elimination tournament, and if I’m seeded two through five, I’m not going into the second round of games with my best pitcher in my pocket. You want to win that first one.

“And no different with us with a bye. I’m going into our set of games, I’m not going to leave my best pitcher in my pocket. I don’t want to start off 0-1, I want to be 1-0.”

Fairfield went 12-4 en route to the second seed, and is led by pitchers Ben Ryder, Logan Carpenter, Hunter Lee and Maddox Santone. Gavin Wilson, Santone and Carpenter have been the biggest bats.

“We really are focused on getting to that state tournament,” Mercier said. “Our first matchup’s a tough one, Messalonskee will be at full strength, and a very good opponent.”

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