STANDISH – Bessey Motors manager Shane Slicer had been in this tenable position two years ago.

Needing two victories to capture the Class A high school state championship, Slicer handed the ball to junkball pitcher Ben Ryerson. The lanky right-hander responded and Oxford Hills won the state championship.

Needing two victories Wednesday just to advance to the championship game in the American Legion baseball state tournament, Slicer again handed the ball to Ryerson – this time to face unbeaten Monmouth’s high-powered attack. Ryerson delivered with a gutsy complete-game effort to lead Bessey Motors to a 7-6 victory.

Bessey Motors was later eliminated from the tournament with a 10-0 loss to Bangor.

Throwing mostly off-speed pitches, Ryerson set the tone early by retiring Monmouth 1-2-3 in the first inning. Monmouth never adjusted to his pitches until it was too late.

“The plan coming in was to throw off-speed all the time,” said Ryerson, who was making his third start of the year. “They’re the best hitting team here.”‘

Monmouth had beaten Bessey Motors, 16-3, on the opening day of the tourney.

Bessey took charge with three runs in the third inning, taking advantage when Monmouth starter Josh Jillson, headed to the University of Maine next year, couldn’t find the plate. Jillson needed 39 pitches – 22 out of the strike zone – before he could get out of the inning, but not before Matt Verrier cleared the bases with a bases-loaded double.

“He was throwing pretty hard,” Verrier said. “We wanted to get a pitch to hit, and we were patient at the plate.”

Jillson finished with six walks and struck out 10 while allowing six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Ryerson, who threw 150 pitches and allowed 11 hits, pitched in-and-out of trouble all game. Through seven innings, Monmouth stranded seven runners in scoring position, but could only score two runs.

“We hit the ball, but right at them,” said Monmouth manager Chad Drouin. “And when we needed the hit, we didn’t get it.”

The Zone II champs finally broke out in the eighth inning. Five hits and an error led to four runs, but with the tying and go-ahead runs on base, Ryerson retired Forrest Dwyer on a grounder to first base.

Monmouth made on final bid in the ninth when Jillson walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch with two outs. Tom Edgecomb, who had three hits, ripped a 3-2 pitch up the middle, but Ryerson stuck his glove up and snagged the ball for the final out.

“It was a submarine fastball,” Ryerson said. “He hit it right back at me. I just tried to knock it down, and it got in my glove somehow.”

Verrier and Nigel Cromwell each had two hits for Bessey. In addition to his three-run double, Verrier added an RBI single in the seventh. Justin Frechette also had an RBI single in the seventh.

Cromwell used some trickery to drive in a run in the fourth. With Russell Estes on third with two outs, Cromwell turned to bunt, but punched the ball into left field with a partial swing.

Edgecomb had three hits for Monmouth, while Tavis Hasenfus and Sean Holbrook added two hits each.



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