RUMFORD – New Auburn finally put things together long enough to keep its future aspirations alive in American Legion baseball action Tuesday.
Brady Blackman hit a two-run single in the fifth inning for the eventual winning run as New Auburn rallied for a 4-2 triumph against Northern Oxford County. This is the final week of the Zone III regular-season action as teams battle for positioning for the playoffs.
The Zone champion receives an automatic bye to the state tournament.
“We are in a dogfight with Gray,” New Auburn coach Bob Blackman said. “They are 12-3, and we are 11-4, and we play them Wednesday. It’s our only meeting against them, and it will be important because the tiebreaker is head-to-head.”
New Auburn received a solid performance from winning pitcher Jake Marcum, who allowed one run in four innings of relief. Post 153 played the odds and brought Blackman, and he struck three of the six batters he faced to earn the save.
Northern Oxford County (7-10) had a chance with the top of the order up, but leadoff batter Chris Cayer struck out. Jon Smith had drawn a walk, but Justin Staires grounded in to a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
“No key hits,” Expos’ coach Ryan Palmer said. “That has been the story of our season. When we get good pitching, the hitting is off and visa versa. You need to hit the ball in order to score runs and win. We didn’t have many chances, but we did leave the bases loaded in the second, and that hurt.”
NOC starter Matt Laubauskas has untouchable until Bump Heldman singled leading the fifth. Derek Doucette walked and Marcum singled. The Expos’ Ben French tagged out Heldman on a botched attempted steal. Adam Lutz bunted to reload the bases.
Kevin Smith drew a bases-loaded walk, and Blackman singled through the right side of the infield for two runs.
“Their pitcher threw a good game,” coach Blackman said. “He kept us off balance until we got the crooked number on base in the fifth and then could do some thing against him.”
New Auburn starter Adam Redman, who pitched a two-hit, 14-strikeout master piece in New Auburn’s 5-1 in last month at Hosmer Field, couldn’t find the strike zone early on.
Justin Staires utilized his speed to score both runs inn the first and fifth. He came around on three wild pitches and also raced home on Laubauskas ground-out. Smith two hits) doubled and Staires (two hits) doubled on an attempted pitch out.
Blackman added an RBI single in the seventh.