OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Fighting for its survival in the state American Legion tournament, Pastime Club came out swinging against Gardiner on Thursday.
Less than 24 hours after being four-hit by First Title ace Louis DiStasio in a 9-1 loss, Pastime clubbed Gardiner pitching for 17 hits, including six doubles, and used an eight-run second inning to spark a 13-1 win in seven innings at The Ballpark.
Pastime (20-3) will face Westbrook at noon Friday, with the loser dropping out of the double-elimination tournament. Gardiner, which included players from Oak Hill and St. Dom's, ended its season at 17-6.
All nine Pastime starters got into the hit column, led by Matt Bowen, who went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Corbin Hyde also had a pair of doubles and scored three times, while Luke Cote, Mekae Hyde, Shawn Ricker and David Cusson added two hits apiece for the two-time defending state champions.
"We just came in here like it was our last game of the season," Bowen said. "It's just about getting those runners in scoring position and following through with the big hits in clutch situations."
Cote limited Gardiner to three hits and one run in six innings, striking out five and walking one. Gardiner's only run came home on a wild pitch with two outs in the first inning.
"We saw Gardiner twice before we played them and we thought if it came to pass that we played them that he was a pretty good matchup," Pastime coach Todd Cifelli said. "Many, many times before in the last two years when we've needed a quality start, Luke's done that for us."
Ben Wigant (double, three runs) started Pastime's big inning against Gardiner starter Josh Martin with a walk. Bowen followed with a single. With one out, Cusson went the other way to right field to single in Wigant and tie the game.
"We got some great energy from David Cusson off the bench today," Cifelli said. "It was nice to have our offense lead us. We're a very capable offense and I think that we showed that today against a good team."
Cote put Pastime ahead with a seeing-eye single to drive home Bowen. Then the floodgates opened with two outs. Mekae Hyde doubled two home, then scored on Corbin Hyde's double.
After a Ricker walk and an error that allowed Wigant to score, Bowen laced a two-strike offering from reliever Kyle Fletcher for his second hit of the inning, a two-run double that made it 8-1.
"They had a lot of good two-strike hits in that inning and extended that inning quite a bit," Gardiner coach Dan Burdin said. "They just kept hitting the baseball and putting it in play where we weren't."
Cote returned to the mound with a big cushion and retired the next eight in a row. Jimmy Theriault broke up the string with a single, but didn't rattle Cote, who sent down the next six in a row.
"After that (big) inning, I got ahead in almost every count. I had a lot of run support, so that helped a lot," Cote said. "I knew they were free swingers. They like to swing at the first pitch a lot. So if I worked backwards, I was all set."
Spencer Allen and Ben Crocker had the other Gardiner hits. Shawn Ricker worked a scoreless seventh inning for Pastime.
Pastime added three more runs in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Wigant, a two-run two-bagger, and Bowen. Ricker (2 for 3, three runs scored) capped the scoring with a two-run single in the fifth.
"We got a lot of leadoff guys on. And if they didn't get on, the next guy did," Cote said.
Pastime has emerged from each of the past two state tournaments having to win at least two games to stave off elimination. It will have to win at least three more if it wants to become the first team since 2004 to win three consecutive state titles.
"(Cifelli) has talked to us about last year, about how we got 10-run ruled by Augusta and had to fight all the way back from the loser's bracket," Bowen said. "We know we're a good team. It's a long, nine-inning game. We've just got to fight all the way through, keep it close and get a couple of key hits here and there."