Rogers Post 153 baserunner Ben Cassidy slides into second for a stolen base as the throw was a little late getting to Bessey Motors’ Rodney Bean.(Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — In a tale of two games, Bessey Motors won a shootout with Rogers Post, 8-6, then lost a pitchers’ duel by a score of 3-1.
In the opening game of Monday’s doubleheader, Rogers Post starter Gavin Bates started off on fire.
Bates struck out the side in the top half of the first on three called strikes, then at the plate hit a long double to push home Grant Hartley and give Rogers a 1-0 lead.
Bates earned two more looking strikeouts in the top of the second inning. In the bottom of the inning, Ben Cassidy walked to lead off and was hit home on a Jayson Taylor single to left to extend Rogers’ lead to two.
Bessey tied it in the third by drawing four walks and getting a single by Cam Slicer, who later scored. Janek Luksza was also walked home by Bates.
Rogers’ Damien St. Pierre started the fourth off with a double and, following two wild pitches by Bessey pitcher Wyatt Williamson, scored to take a 3-2 lead.
That 3-2 advantage would be the last lead the home team would have in game one, as Bessey opened it up in the fifth. Bates walked the first three batters and was pulled, tallying 10 strikeouts but also nine walks.
“I was happy with how we kept at Bates and made him throw some pitches,” Bessey head coach Shane Slicer said. “He was throwing pretty hard and I think we were patient with it. We managed to get guys on and get him in the stretch, and I thought that was helpful for us. We were trying to get his pitch count up a little bit and it’s hard because you can’t just take pitches up the middle because he’s throwing high-80s, so it’s a catch-22.”
Ethan Brown was brought on in relief, but he gave up back-to-back doubles to Ethan LaBossiere and Emery Chickering that scored three.
A walk to Troy Johnson, a single by Brayden Bean and a fielder’s choice by Jonny Pruett drove in a total of three more runs to extend Bessey’s lead to 8-3.
Williamson settled in after giving up a double to start the fourth, but he was replaced by Janek Luksza in the sixth after giving up a walk.
In the sixth, Rogers earned two walks to start the inning. A sacrifice fly scored Giles Paradie followed by a single by Cassidy that scored St. Pierre.
Jake Arel popped up to second base but instead of the routine third out, Bean dropped the ball, which allowed Cassidy to score. However, on the same play, Oren Shaw got caught between second and third and was called out at second.
Bessey left two runners in scoring position in the top of the seventh, leaving the door open for Rogers one more time. Luksza was able to shut that door with three fly outs to give Bessey the victory.
“There’s the old adage that walks will kill you, and that’s kind of what happened in game one,” Rogers Post head coach Dave Jordan said. “They had that one big inning, but I am proud of the guys to battle back and get themselves back into the game.”
After finishing game one, Luksza started game two and got out of the first inning unscathed. Things were different in the second.
St. Pierre, Rogers’ game two starter, slapped a single to start the inning. He made his way to third on a steal and a grounder, then was hit home on a Tim Albert fielder’s choice. Cassidy, who walked after St. Pierre’s single, scored on an error.
Rogers took a two-run lead into the fourth. Bessey’s Ashton Kennison drive a single into right field to lead off. Chickering hit a single to move Kennison to third, which was followed by a wild pitch that scored Kennison for Bessey’s first run.
Slicer led off the fifth inning with a single. Rodney Bean followed up with a fly ball to left that was caught by Ethan Brown, who threw a bullet back to first that, with the help of a diving tag by Bates, was able to finish the double play.
“Second game, I thought Damien did well on the mound and the guys did well behind him,” Jordan said. “I know we didn’t have a ton of hits, but I think we were opportunistic in terms of getting guys on base.”
Kennison came in for a Bessey in relief in the fifth and gave up two base runners apiece in the fifth and sixth innings, but got out of both jams without allowing a run.
Rogers went to the plate in the seventh trying to add an insurance run, and that they did. Austin Brown reached base on a walk and was moved over by a Hartley single then a fielder’s choice. Brown scored when Kennison threw a wild pitch to the backstop and gave Rogers Post a 3-1 lead.
“I think the heat made a difference. Also we kind of just settled down and said, ‘If we win it, we win it, if we don’t, we don’t,’” St. Pierre said. “Even after a post-grad year, playing against Bessey is always still a rivalry game, so it kind of just drove me to it. We play really hard, we communicate well and we fix things that we needed to fix.”
Bessey couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the seventh, and Rogers was able to split the doubleheader with a 3-1 win.
While Paradie was unable to get a hit Monday, he was an intricate part of Rogers success, catching both games.
“I think it’s just love of the game,” Jordan said. “… Giles caught both games of the doubleheader and I was going to take him out but he didn’t want to come out, so good for him. I am just happy our guys love the game and we were able to salvage a split against a very good team.”
Bessey’s Emery Chickering makes a diving effort to snag a sharp line drive but it was just out of reach and allowed a Rogers Post 153 baserunner on second to score on the play during Monday night’s American Legion baseball game in Auburn. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Bessey Motors’ Rodney Bean smiles as a perfect throw from his catcher gunned down Auburn Suburban’s Grant Hartley for an out as he tried stealing second base during the first game of a double header at Auburn Suburban Monday. 5 (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Bessey Motors’ Jonny Pruett dives into second base with a stolen base as Rogers Post 153’s Ben Cassidy had to leave the base and make a diving attempt at the errant throw.(Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)