AUBURN — Arguably, Smith-Tobey Post 21 of Bath made better contact against Rogers Post 153 pitchers Tyler Schaefer and Nate Pushard than Rogers hitters did against a pair of Smith-Tobey pitchers.

But, several hard-hit line drives were either directly at Rogers Post outfielders, or the host team’s players made nice run-and-grab catches.

On the other side, Rogers took advantage of a handful of bloopers and infield singles for a 6-2 American Legion Zone III quarterfinal victory at steamy Pettingill Park on Saturday.

No. 4 Rogers Post (12-7) will face No. 2 Pastime Club of Lewiston on Sunday in the semifinal round after No. 6 Locke Mills survived a play-in game against Highland Green and then ousted No. 3 Bessey Motors. Fifth-seeded Smith-Tobey ended its campaign at 10-9.

“Sometimes our pitchers throw really good pitches and the opponent sticks a bat out there and gets one to drop in. Such is baseball,” Smith-Tobey coach Garrett Olson said. “It was just one of those days. We had guys smoke balls to the outfield, but right at them. You just try to not get frustrated.”

Olson is a former Oxford Hills High School and Bessey Motors standout who went on to play minor-league baseball.

Rogers Post strung together three singles in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. Mike Hammond dropped a blooper to right, and after Nate Pushard singled, Brian Crane placed a flyball just beyond the glove of Smith-Tobey first baseman Chris Paulus and inside the right-field line for the game’s first run.

Schaefer started off well on the mound for Rogers, retiring the first six batters he faced on 11 pitches, and his teammates staked him to a 3-0 lead in the home half of the second inning. Evan Raymond reached on an infield single, and Corey Henderson followed with a bloop single to right field. John Simpson’s RBI single followed for a 2-0 lead, and an error on a fly ball by Nate Blais made for a 3-0 contest.

Smith-Tobey got on the board in the third without the benefit of a hit. Aaron Barrett walked and stole second. Schaefer went for the pickoff at second base, but his throw was behind shortstop Josh DeLong and into center field. Barrett managed to score on the play as the ball eluded Blais in center.

Smith-Tobey starting pitcher Trenton Moore found a groove, holding Rogers Post to one hit from the third to the sixth inning.

The visitors managed to claw within a run in the fourth. Zach Holbrook and Liam McDonough both walked. Pushard relieved Schaefer and induced a double play grounder for two quick outs. But, Paulus’ sinking line drive to center field glanced off the glove of Blais, allowing McDonough to close to 3-2.

Pushard was solid the rest of the way, holding Smith-Tobey to just three hits in six innings of work. He struck out two and walked four.

“I didn’t have my best stuff, but I tried to grind, and the defense behind me was solid today,” said Pushard, who gave his team some breathing room in the seventh inning with a two-run single that landed between two Smith-Tobey fielders and on the right-field line for a 6-2 lead. “Sometimes you can hit the ball hard four times and have nothing to show for it. Bloop hits count. We know that we have to play well the rest of the way to keep going.”

“We had good contact and played pretty good, but we were unlucky,” said McDonough, who lined out twice.

“I think it was a pretty good year for us, considering we had the split with Mt. Ararat baseball (Highland Green), and there were not a lot of expectations coming into the season,” Olson said. “I was very impressed with them, and it will go far into our high school season next year at Morse.”

Pushard was 3-for-4 at the plate, while Crane and Simpson both singled twice.

For Smith-Tobey, Moore was 2-for-5 with a double, while Wade Hunt singled.


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