SOUTH PARIS – Cole Farms did almost everything it had to do to give itself a chance to win against a potent Bessey Motors lineup. Everything that is, except find a way to hit Joe Baker.

Louie Bernardini went nine full innings, giving up just two runs, one earned, on six hits while the defense committed just two errors behind him. Bessey, fueled by a 1-0 eighth inning win over Gayton on Friday, used patience and an equally impressive pitching performance from Baker to edge Cole Farms 2-1 in a nine-inning American Legion Zone III semifinal Saturday.

“If you had told me that we were going to hold this offense to two runs over the nine-inning game, I would have been happy with that,” Cole Farms coach Aaron Talon told his team. “We just had an off day at the plate.”

Baker held Cole Farms to just four hits and one unearned run, which came in the top of the ninth to lead the team. Jeff Austin, meanwhile, doubled and scored the game’s first run on a Tyler Bryant single. Garrett Olson scored after an error on another Bryant single. Bryant has now driven in all three of Bessey Motors’ postseason runs.

“I wish our offense would produce a few more runs than this,” said Bessey coach Shane Slicer. “We have faced two of the best pitchers in the Zone so far, so there’s some consolation in that, but we need to get back to doing what we do best, and that’s hitting.”

Bernardini had faced just one batter over the minimum through three innings, but allowed a leadoff double to Austin in the bottom of the fourth. Bryant followed with a single to right field to score Austin from second and give Bessey the 1-0 lead.

“That was an outside fastball,” said Bryant. “I just went with it.”

In the top of the fourth, Cole Farms had a chance to strike first, but Jordan Yanni, on third after he and Bernardini both singled, missed a squeeze sign and was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice.

“That was a suicide squeeze that he never took off on,” said Cole Farms coach Tony Bernardini. “That’s all it was.”

Bessey added what was eventually the winning run in the bottom of the sixth. Olson reached second after Cole Farms left fielder Devin Gill saw the ball hop out of his glove after attempting to catch a long fly ball. Olson came around to score two batters later when Bryant again smacked a single through the infield. Baker took care of the rest from there.

“He made us chase the fast ball,” said Tony Bernardini. “He kept most of his pitches low, so when he came up, we kept hitting fly balls.”

Cole Farms’ lone run crossed the plate in the top of the ninth when Justin Merrill reached on an error by the shortstop and scored on a single by Joe Brozozowsky. The next batter, Andy Crawford, hit into a fielder’s choice and Steve Melville ended the game with another fielder’s choice.

Bessey Motors advances to the Zone III final on Sunday, when Garrett Olson is expected to toe the rubber. Bessey will face New Auburn which beat Mid Coast, 11-7, in the other semifinal Saturday.

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