Rogers Post plated 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat Bessey Motors 13-1 in the American Legion semifinals at Auburn Suburban on Tuesday. With the victory, Rogers advances to the Zone 2 championship and clinches a state tournament berth.

Defense ruled the first five-and-a-half innings of Tuesday’s game as second-seeded Rogers held a 2-1 lead over third-seeded Bessey.

Outfielders were tracking down fly balls and infielders were stopping grounders and making on-the-money throws. Four of the first nine half-innings ended on double plays.

Then, the bottom of the sixth happened.

“Sometimes the ball finds glove, sometimes it finds grass,” Rogers coach Dave Jordan said. “That inning, it just kind of found grass for us.”

Sixteen Rogers batters came to the plate. There were eight singles, two doubles, a home run, a walk and one batter reached on an error.

Catcher Drew Lashua hit the homer, a three-run shot to right-center field. He also had a two-run double that drove in the inning’s first two runs.

“We were just getting the ball down. We were just finding gaps — just hit the ball, good things happen,” Lashua said.

“We’ve had some pretty good innings, but nothing like that. Everybody hit. It was solid. It was a little crazy, because everybody was getting a hit.”

Seven of the runs crossed the plate before the first out was recorded.

Tyler Blanchard led off with a single, and Jarod Norcross-Plourde followed with a ground-rule double. Lashua brought both runners in with a double down the left-field line. 4-1.

That was followed by an onslaught of singles that led to five more runs: Grant Hartley drove in Lashua, Maxx Bell knocked in Lew Jensen, Ben Harris brought in Hartley and Austin Cox singled in Bell. 8-1.

Bessey starter Troy Johnson was lifted at that point, leaving Trent Spaulding with a bases-loaded, no-out mess.

There was more mess to come, staring with Blanchard’s single driving in Mason Brushwein.

Spaulding finally recorded the first out of the inning when Norcross-Plourde flied out to right field, but pinch runner Race Bouchard tagged up from third and scored easily.

Then Lashua cleared the bases with his opposite-field homer. 13-1.

“It was a nice punctuation mark, in terms of just getting that 10(-run lead),” Jordan said.

Rogers (17-3) scored its other two runs in the second inning. Jensen’s one-out double was the game’s first hit. Hartley, the next batter, hit a double that nearly cleared that nearly cleared the fence but did clear Bessey left fielder Hunter Labossiere’s glove. That brought in Jensen. Then Brushwein singled to score Hartley.

Other than that, Johnson cruised through the first five innings, helped by three double plays.

Then, the bottom of the sixth happened.

“I guess that’s baseball,” Bessey coach Lance Bean said. “It’s a good hitting team, and Troy was keeping them off-balance, and then they just got on a roll. Some days you can keep them fooled, and some days you can’t.”

Johnson has had good success against Rogers players in 2016. In May, during the high school baseball season, he threw a no-hitter against Edward Little, where many of Rogers’ players come from.

“I thought Johnson did a fantastic job hitting the spots to hold us down early on,” Jordan said. “And that sixth inning, we figured something out. They just kind of got the bat barrels on the ball more.”

Bessey threatened in the top of the third when it loaded the bases on a double and two walks. But Johnson hit a liner right at Rogers starter Damien St. Pierre for the third out.

Bessey finally broke through in the fourth inning when Emery Chickering drove in Brady Lafrance to cut Rogers’ lead to 2-1 with only one out. The next batter, Brayden Bean, lined out to Rogers first baseman Ben Harris, who touched the bag before Emery did for a solo double play that ended the inning.

St. Pierre pitched all seven innings, which allowed Rogers’ other arms another day off heading into Wednesday’s championship game.

“At this time of the year, that’s important, because pitching’s at a premium,” Jordan said. “When you’re playing three nine-inning games, back-to-back days, to have a seven(-inning start) and saving a couple guys, that was important.”

Jordan said he didn’t know who would start on the mound for Rogers in the championship game, but that there were many pitchers eager to pitch.

Rogers will face rival Pastime (20-0), which defeated Gardiner 9-2 on Tuesday, in the title game at Lewiston High School at 4:30 p.m. Pastime has dealt Rogers all three of its losses this summer.

“Pastime’s really good,” Lashua said. “They’ve had our number so far, but we’re ready for them.”

The championship game will be mostly for seeding purposes, since both teams have locked up state berths.

“Both teams want the zone championship, but we’re kind of playing with house money because both teams have sealed a spot in the state tournament,” Jordan said. “So it’s one of those: we’ll go out, we’re going to work really hard, we’ll give it our best shot, and they will as well.

“But at the end of the day, both teams are going. The Twin Cities are going to be represented well in the state tournament.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.