PARIS — American Legion playoff games in Maine go a full nine innings. Those two extra innings did not phase Bessey Motors lefty Blake Slicer, who threw a six-hit, complete-game shutout to beat Locke Mills 4-0 in the first round of the Zone 2 baseball tournament.

“We played well defensively and had a hell of a performance by Blake Slicer,” Bessey coach Lance Bean said. “Nine-inning shutout — can’t ask for much more on the mound.”

Slicer got right to work in the first two innings, giving up just two hits and striking out four batters. From there, Slicer retired 16 straight batters, not allowing a base runner until the seventh inning.

“We thought about making a change late in the game, and he said, ‘Coach, I’m dialed in. Let’s keep going,’” Bean said.

At the plate, Bessey was not getting anything easy from Locke pitcher Caleb Clarke, who went seven-and-two-thirds innings, allowing four runs on eight hits.

Bessey was held scoreless until the fourth inning, when Slicer singled into left and was hit home by a triple from Brady Lafrance. Lafrance was driven home later in the inning off a Matt Smith single, giving Slicer a two-run lead.

In the fifth, Hunter Labossiere hit a single and then got to third on a passed ball at first base. Labossiere was driven in on a single by Bailey West, and Bessey scored another run later in the inning to make it 4-0 after five.

After leaving the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Bessey was unable to pull any more runs in, but had all it needed for the victory.

Locke coach Brad Clarke was proud of the way his team stepped up, not just Monday, but all season long.

“Great sportsmanship all year. They battled to the end,” Clarke said. “We have a very young team and I thought we played in a close game. It could have gone either way. Give Blake Slicer credit, he pitched a great game.”

Locke played with just nine guys, as two of its best hitters, Chase Harkins and Tanner Wheeler, missed game because of an injury and vacation, respectively.

While excuses could have been made, Clarke put the praise on his veteran leadership, both on the field and in the dugout.

“The guys are very loose, a very close group,” Clarke said. “They’re from a lot of different schools but they’ve really bonded. A big help was Kyle Joseph, 19, he was a great leader and kept everyone loose and relaxed.

“I wanted to give credit to Bob Remington and John Elliot, my assistant coaches — great baseball minds.”

Bessey will go into Tuesday’s playoff game with fresh arms off the back of Slicer’s 10-strikeout performance. Slicer said he decided to go the whole nine around the sixth inning.

“Once the sixth inning kicked in, I realized we had a little bit of a lead, some run support,” Slicer said. “That really helped my confidence so I didn’t really want to come out.”


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