BOWDOINHAM — There was little reason to believe Topsham Post 202 had much of a chance against unbeaten and first-place Yankee Ford in Tuesday’s Zone 3 Senior American Legion baseball game at the Bowdoinham Recreational Field.
But as the saying goes in sports — on any given day… — and Post 202 handed Yankee Ford its first loss of the campaign with a stunning 3-2 victory.
Topsham (2-12) ended a 12-game losing skid, while the squad based out of South Portland and Gorham fell to 11-1.
Post 202 starting pitcher Casey Dion handcuffed Yankee Ford for five innings before a sore arm forced him to depart. Brunswick freshman Sam Masse relieved and pitched out of trouble twice to nail down the win, thanks to a two-run home run by Austin Damon in the sixth for a 3-2 lead.
“Casey stepped up big for us, and the defense helped keep the pitch count low,” Topsham Post coach Josh Meier said. “Casey pitched five quick innings, and for him to go that deep into the game really helped us.”
In the first two meetings, Yankee Ford feasted on Topsham Post 202 pitchers.
“They destroyed us with two of our top power throwers pitching. They were putting fastballs into the gaps,” Meier said. “Today, Casey kept them off-balance. We weren’t going to overpower these guys, and he did a good job going up in the zone and down in the zone.”
“They were not used to my pitching. I am a slower pitcher with a lot of movement. You could tell they got frustrated, and the second time through I changed things up a little bit,” said Dion, who went the first five innings on two runs (one earned), four hits and two walks.
The first three innings breezed by in 30 minutes, with Dion and Yankee Ford pitcher Ryan Norris keeping the ball around the plate. Norris threw just 19 pitches in the first three frames and gained a 1-0 lead when Yankee Ford scored in the third inning on a Riley Hasson RBI single.
The visitors made it 2-0 in the fifth when Hasson (1-for-2, two walks, two stolen bases) trotted home on a single by Jake Poole.
Topsham Post 202, which was held hitless through four innings, put together three singles in the fifth to cut the Yankee Ford lead in half. Devin Tobin and Danny Stewart opened the frame with back-to-back singles, and Dalton Dickey ripped a single to right-center field for an RBI.
Dion threw 68 pitches and was relieved by Masse to start the sixth. He ran into trouble right away, with Brogan McDonald walking on four pitches and Nolan Brown singling to left, with an error putting both runners into scoring position with no outs. But, Masse escaped, inducing three shallow fly balls to keep his team within striking distance.
In the Topsham Post 202 sixth, Mt. Ararat High School teammates Cam Dunton and Damon joked that if Dunton reached, Damon was going to drive him in. Damon drove the first pitch he saw from Norris, sending a long, slicing fly ball to right field. The ball cleared the foul pole for a two-run home run and a 3-2 lead.
“I thought it was going to go foul, but it sliced just right,” said Damon, who returned Tuesday from a mid-season injury. “Hopefully this will carry us into next season.”
“When he gets up, you’re hoping for something big, and the umpire made a good call. He came up huge for us,” said Meier.
In the Yankee Ford seventh, leadoff hitter David Drew was hit by a Masse pitch. He stole second, one of 10 stolen bases for the visitors, but stayed at second as the right-handed throwing Masse retired the final three hitters for the mound win, ending a frustrating stretch of losses.
“At some point in the season you look at your team and the standings, asking if you’re playing for something or coaching for that next season. We are trying to have fun,” said Meier, whose squad visits Post 86 United on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Norris was solid in the loss, going the distance on just 51 pitches with three strikeouts.