Rogers Post 153 third baseman Gavin Bates, left, stops a low throw as Patime Club’s Gage Cote slides into third safely behind him during the teams’ American Legion baseball doubleheader at Pettengill Park in Auburn on Saturday.
AUBURN — Cooper Millett doesn’t see a lot of at-bats for Pastime Club yet as a younger member of the squad. As such, his comprehension of the often vexing hitting and running signals is also still in a learning phase.
Saturday, that confusion proved beneficial for him — and for his team. Millett dropped a perfect bunt to the first-base side of home plate in the bottom of the fifth inning. His speed up the line forced the pitcher to fire the ball into left field, allowing Nick Lerette to score from second base with the winning run as Pastime capped a forceful sweep of Rogers Post with a 10-0, mercy-rule-shortened game at Pettengill Park. Pastime also won the opener, 9-2.
“When they come to play, they’re the best team in our zone,” Rogers Post manager Dave Jordan said. “Today, they came to play. I know they’d lost a few games recently, but today, when they came to play, we saw what they can do. They have many different ways they can score. They can manufacture runs, they have speed, they can put bunts down, and they’re very patient at the plate.”
Pastime also displayed some depth Saturday. All 15 players who suited up for the Lewiston-based team had at least one at-bat. But the key to the win,” Pastime manager Jake Brown said, was remembering how to be patient at the plate.
“I told the guys after that loss to Locke Mills (on Wednesday) that if they could learn something from that game, it could be good for us in the long run,” Brown said. “We’ve really worked hard on having quality at-bats since that game. We’re the kind of team that feeds off each other. If one or two guys get going, the rest of the team will feed off of that.”
Pastime scored 12 runs against Augusta on Thursday before putting up 19 in two games Saturday for a total of 31 in three games.
In Game 1 Saturday, the top of the order led the home team to the win. Catcher Brock Belanger reached base four times and scored on all four chances. Gage Cote added three hots and two runs scored from the No. 2 position, and Evan Cox was 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored from the No. 3 position.
“Those guys, what makes them good is that they can swing the bat well, and they’re also really good on the base paths,” Brown said. “They’re all athletic. They were really having good at-bats and attacking the fast ball. We definitely fed off the top of the order.”
Rogers scored the first run of the afternoon in the top of the first when Austin Cox scampered home on a Gavin Bates single. Belanger and Evan Cox scored for Pastime in the bottom of the opening frame, and the hosts never trailed again.
The teams traded runs through the top of the fourth to leave Pastime in front 3-2 before the home team broke things open in the bottom half of the fourth. Jack Leblond led that charge by drawing a walk, Belanger followed with his own free pass, and Cote legged out a bunt. Leblond scored on an error on that play, and the other two runners advanced to second and third. Belanger scored on a passed ball, and then Evan Cox plated Cote with a sacrifice fly.
Hunter Landry and Lucas Francis followed with another pair of singles to drive Rogers pitcher Tyler Blanchard from the game.
Belanger and Cote scored again in the fifth, and Francis added the final run of the game in the sixth after a walk, a stolen base and a Hunter Richardson single.
Pastime kept its momentum in the second contest.
“In Game 2, we picked up where we left off,” Brown said. “Everyone stepped up. They all want that top spot (in the zone), and that’s the mission we’re on.”
In Game 1, the top of the order primarily led Pastime. In the second game, every batter reached base at least once.
“Second game, I thought they were just dialed in,” Jordan said. “They had a lot of confidence going from that first game, and a couple big hit early on. My guys played hard, I just thought that they were a team that was on a mission in that second game.”
Belanger, Cote, Evan Cox and Hunter Landry all scored in the first for Pastime, and Cote, Evan Cox, Landry, Leblond and Eddie Turgeon all scored in the second to stake the home team to a 9-0 advantage, which was more than enough for Evan Cox, who assumed pitching duties in Game 2.
“What really helped us today was Hunter Richardson and Evan Cox both went complete games,” Brown said. “We play again tomorrow, and again Tuesday. I think we have six games left in the next week, so to have those guys extend and let us keep everyone else on an off day, that was big.”
Evan Cox fired a one-hitter in the nightcap, striking out five. Richardson scattered seven hits in an 86-pitch complete game in the opener.
Lerette led off the bottom of the fifth in the second game with a double deep to left to set up Millett’s game-winning bunt.
Both squads host River Valley in makeup games Sunday, with pastime taking the field at Pettengill at 4 p.m., and Rogers hosting under the lights at Auburn Suburban at 7 p.m.
Rogers Post 153 second baseman Jarod Norcross Plourde tries to tag Pastime Club’s Gage Cote as Cote steals second base during the teams’ American Legion baseball doubleheader at Pettengill Park in Auburn on Saturday. Cote was called safe on the play.Rogers Post 153 pitcher Nick Hathaway fires a pitch against Pastime Club during the teams’ American Legion baseball doubleheader at Pettengill Park in Auburn on Saturday.Pastime Club’s Michael Belleau takes a cut at a pitch in the sixth inning of the first game of a doubleheader against Rogers Post 153 in Auburn on Saturday. Belleau hit the ball to shallow right field, where first baseman Grant Hartley made an over-the-shoulder catch for an out. Awaiting the pitch is Rogers catcher Maxx Bell.Pastime Club second baseman Evan Cox, left, forces out Rogers Post runner Aistin Cox on an attempted double play during the teams’ American Legion baseball doubleheader at Pettengill Park in Auburn on Saturday.Pastime Club pitcher Hunter Richardson fires a pitch against Rogers Post 153 during the teams’ American Legion baseball doubleheader at Pettengill Park in Auburn on Saturday.Rogers Post infielders Austin Cox, left, and Nick Hathaway converge on a ground ball against Pastime Club during the teams’ American Legion baseball doubleheader at Pettengill Park in Auburn on Saturday. Hathaway snagged the ball and threw to first for an out.