BANGOR — The team in red went by the name Post 51, not Messalonskee, although there were enough Eagles on the Oakland-based American Legion baseball squad to make Bessey Motors of Oxford Hills nervous after three springs worth of mixed results on the high school diamond.

Summer heat, a few additions on both sides, and the left arm of Riley Chickering balanced the equation nicely for Bessey on Wednesday afternoon.

Chickering pitched a complete game and Ty Martin was 3-for-5 with two runs scored, boosting Bessey Motors past Post 51 of Oakland, 7-2, on opening day of the American Legion baseball state tournament at Winkin Complex.

“I didn’t tell anybody he was pitching until the last second, because I really didn’t know. I had my ideas, but I just wanted to feel the team out,” Bessey Motors manager Shane Slicer said. “They were as relaxed as I’ve seen them in a long time, and that made a big difference. They were intense but relaxed. Riley pitched outstanding. You can’t ask for any more against that lineup. “

Nick Attaliades-Ryan, Dalton Rice, Zack Conley and Matt Smith each had two hits for Bessey, which banged out a dozen. Conley collected three RBIs. Smith knocked in a pair.

Zone 3 runner-up Bessey Motors (19-3) will meet Zone 1 champion Brewer in a winner’s bracket game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Post 51 (10-12) faces possible elimination in a 10 a.m. contest with Staples Crossing of Eliot/South Berwick. Brewer beat Staples Crossing, 4-1, in 10 innings earlier Wednesday.

The left-handed Chickering toughened as the game progressed, rolling up all six of his strikeouts from the fourth inning to the finish. He didn’t allow a runner past second base in that stretch.

“The adrenaline starts pumping around the fifth or sixth inning, and then it’s just all uphill from there,” said Chickering, who threw 104 pitches. He walked only two.

Chickering, who will pitch at the University of Maine at Farmington next year, scattered seven hits.

“It was just same old, same Ri,” Smith said. “I’ve been catching for him since Little League, 11 years old, and that off-speed is gross.”

Devin Warren worked the first three innings and took the loss for Post 51.

Bessey scratched out a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.

Martin and Smith led off with consecutive singles to right field. After a wild pitch and a popout, Conley’s chopper took a bounce behind shortstop Jake Dexter, leaving Post 51 with no play at first as Martin raced home.

Chickering drew a walk before Matt Beauchesne legged out a fielder’s choice at first to plate Smith and extend the inning.

Armed with the lead, Chickering spun a 1-2-3 second. He retired five consecutive Post 51 batters after runners reached first and second with one out in the first.

“I knew coming into it that I had to keep the ball down and keep them off-balance. Otherwise I knew they hit the ball well,” Chickering said. “Once we get up it starts feeling good, like, ‘Wow, we can beat these guys,’ and it just goes from there.”

If Chickering had a bugaboo during the regular season and playoff games against the same opponent, it was the perils of a slow start.

Perhaps a 58-minute delay due to the morning game between Brewer and Staples Crossing going beyond nine played into his hands.

“We joked when he came off in the first, because that’s usually his warm-up inning,” Slicer said. “He came out of there, had a couple of guys on, but threw pretty well and we were like, ‘Holy crap, this feels like the fourth.’”

Conley watched a 3-2 offering from Warren for a bases-loaded walk and a 3-0 lead in the third. It was the extent of what could have been a bigger windfall for Bessey, which had runners at second and third with none out after a Rice double and Brady LaFrance’s subsequent single and stolen base.

Bessey stranded seven runners through the first three frames and 11 overall.

Hitless through two, Post 51 promptly cut into Bessey’s lead in its half of the third. Trevor Gettig and Cody Martin led off with consecutive singles. Warren’s sacrifice bunt set up an RBI groundout by Zach Mathieu and an RBI single to right by Dexter.

A.J. Godin kept things quiet through the middle three innings for Post 51, allowing only Attalides-Ryan’s one-out single in the fourth. Bessey left runners at third base in the fourth and sixth.

Then the Bessey bats came alive.

Rice led off the seventh with a first-pitch single. LaFrance’s sacrifice moved him to second, and Martin’s hard one-hopper to the mound nicked Godin’s glove before landing in no-man’s land for an infield single, putting runners at the corners.

Post 51’s right fielder overran Smith’s sharp fly ball, turning it into a two-run double. Smith went to third on the late, errant relay throw to home in an effort to get Martin.

“It sliced a lot, more than I expected,” Smith said. “Then I got to second base and heard Coach O (assistant coach Joe Oufiero) yelling to stop, so I stopped. Then I had to run more, and then I was tired.”

Nick Bowie’s sacrifice fly to center then made it a 6-2 advantage.

Martin’s leadoff double set the table for a two-out Conley single in the ninth.

“It puts us in the driver’s seat,” Chickering said of the victory.”

There were no repeat hitters for Post 51, which committed four errors. Bessey’s lone miscue was a throwing error in the first, one that Chickering erased by coaxing two fly balls.

Warren and Mathieu hinted at a Post 51 rally with consecutive singles to start the bottom of the eighth, but left fielder Conley doused the flames when he cut down Warren attempting to take third. Martin applied the tag.

Bessey hadn’t been to the state tourney since a lengthy streak of appearances ended in 2011.

Although Bessey also draws players from Lake Region, Windham and St. Dom’s and Messalonskee has Lawrence and Waterville athletes in the mix, from an Oxford Hills perspective the win avenged losses in the Class A East championship in 2013 and semifinals in 2014.

“It’s good for that senior class that has worked so hard to get over the hump a little bit,” Slicer said. “We’ve had a good run, just not exactly where they’re wanted it. Getting in the winner’s bracket, you get at least two more days. It was beautiful getting Game 1. Believe me, I want Game 2, too.’


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