PARIS — The format now switches from single-elimination to double-elimination for the semifinalists in the Zone 2 American Legion baseball tournament.

No matter for the top-seeded team. Bessey Motors cannot afford, or stomach, another performance like Tuesday afternoon.

Bessey blew a 6-0 lead and committed nine errors before battling back to take out No. 8 Highland Green of Topsham, 14-7, in a three-hour quarterfinal grind at Gouin Athletic Complex.

“We need to play better,” Bessey Motors coach Shane Slicer said. “A beat’s a beat, but from a coaching side, if we don’t play better, we aren’t going to be long for the tournament.”

Last year’s state tournament runner-up advanced to a 4:30 p.m. Wednesday game against the lowest remaining seed. The rest of the zone playoffs will be held at Morton and McGuire fields in Augusta.

Brady LaFrance’s triple tied it after a disastrous top of the fifth giftwrapped five runs and gave Highland Green a 7-6 edge.


LaFrance later scored on a two-out error to give Bessey the lead for good.

“I think we just had a case of the yips. That’s what we like to call them when things aren’t necessarily going our way,” LaFrance said. “Our bats backed it up a lot. We got stuff going on at the plate, and that’s what brought us back, got the momentum going.”

Nick Bowie put it out of reach with a three-run home run in the sixth off reliever Jake O’Neill.

His day came full circle after three center field errors an inning earlier, including a pair of dropped fly balls.

“After my errors in the field, which were unfortunate, I put a lot of anger into that ball,” Bowie said. “It felt good. I went up there confident. Short-term memory is the biggest thing about baseball. You’ve just got to forget that and move on.”

Highland Green coach Bob Neron even admitted that he had to stifle a smile after Bowie’s comeback blast.


“Of course I wanted to win the game, but I was kind of impressed with how he dropped those balls and didn’t take it to the plate,” Neron said. “A lot of guys, they’re out of it. They’re going to go up there and take three swings and go sit down. He was focused and drove one out of here. The thing was a bomb.”

Bessey (16-3) rallied to make a winner of left-hander Blake Slicer, who battled through six innings of elusive control and erratic defensive support.

He allowed only one earned run. After issuing 10 consecutive balls to load the bases in the first inning, Slicer, the coach’s son, chalked up two of his five strikeouts and coaxed a grounder to escape.

Highland Green (6-13) stranded 10 on base against Slicer and 14 in all.

“I thought Blake pitched fairly well. The first inning was bad. They got a few hits, but there’s a lot of unearned runs there,” Shane Slicer said. “When I look at the whole game, we ran the bases pretty good, and our catcher (Matt Smith) played well. Other than that there’s not a lot of bright, bright spots. Some guys got some hits and squared the ball up, but we’ve got to execute a lot better than that.”

Bessey scored six runs to chase Highland Green starter Kevin Carter in the third. Highland Green committed two of its six errors in the inning. Riley Chickering’s RBI single, Aiden Heikkinen’s bases-loaded walk and a two-run hit by Smith inflicted most of the damage.


Griff Stockford and Cam Cox had fourth-inning RBIs for Highland Green, which used two-outdoubles by Harper Moutal and O’Neill and the flurry of Bessey errors to flourish in the fifth.

“A lot of teams that fall behind like that don’t come back. It’s something to build on. We’re a young team,” Neron said. “(Bessey is) solid. They had a bad game, but to me they’re the best around. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them have a poorer defensive game than that, and I don’t think you’ll see one, either, for a long time.”

Every starter had at least one hit for Bessey, which out-hit Highland Green, 13-8. LaFrance, Smith and Tyler Curtis each delivered two. Cox was the lone repeat offender for the visitors.

Both teams turned a pair of double plays to balance the many miscues.

Bowie was a late arrival and didn’t enter the game until the bottom of the fourth.

“I came into this game without any batting practice,” he said. “I never was much of a power hitter, but I wanted to be. I’ve put the work in, and it definitely pays off.”

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