AUGUSTA — Defense. It’s the often-times forgotten aspect of baseball.

Then one play here or there, good or bad, takes the spotlight and players in both dugouts remember how important defense can be.

There were miscues from each team when Rogers Post of Auburn and Fayette-Staples of Saco squared off on the first day of the American Legion state tournament Wednesday, but it was Rogers Post that rebounded from them best to win 7-6 at Morton Field.

A leadoff error in the bottom of the third led to three runs for Zone 4 champion Fayette-Staples, giving the designated home team a 4-0 early lead. A one-out error then gave Fayette-Staples the lead again in the fourth after Rogers Post had tied it in the top half of the inning.

With two runners on, a Ben Lambert grounder to the shortstop looked primed to start a double play, but Austin Cox and second basemane Lew Jensen couldn’t connect, and Fayette-Staples went up 5-4.

“It was kind of one of those plays where it’s kind of routine. You just kind of take your eye of it for a second, and then there goes a run,” Cox said. “That could easily turn into something more, but we had good damage control, and Damien (St. Pierre) pitched really well.”

St. Pierre then recorded 10 straight outs before hitting a batter in the seventh. But that two-out baserunner was rendered harmless when the Rogers Post starter assisted on the third out of the inning — an Eric Clum-Russell groundout.

“I wouldn’t have gotten it, but it tipped off Damien’s glove, and I just happened to be there and made a play,” said Cox, who ranged to up the middle to snag the grounder, then flipped to Jensen for the force out. “That was a big momentum turn, too, to get out of that inning and keep the lead.”

Rogers Post took the lead in the top of the fifth when Fayette-Staples’ defense took a turn making a costly miscue.

With two on and one out, Mason Brushwein bunted to Lambert, the pitcher, whose throw to third to force out the lead runner was in time — but Brogan Searle-Belanger couldn’t secure the throw.

Cox then singled up the middle to drive in the tying run, a Tyler Blanchard grounder brought home Maxx Bell for the go-ahead run, and Brushwein scored on a wild pitch to tack on an insurance run.

“They’re a great hitting team. They had some great hits to the right spots,” Fayette-Staples manager James Belanger said of Rogers Post. “We almost made a couple tough plays, and we kind of missed on a few.”

Rogers Post scored all of its runs in two innings, plating four in the fourth before putting together the three-run fifth. A Grant Hartley double started things off against Lambert, who had scattared three hits and a walk while striking out five through three innings. Brushwien and Cox collected RBI singles in the fourth, and Jarod Norcross-Plourde drove home two more runs with a double.

“Just a basic approach of looking for a pitch that you can hit,” Rogers Post manager Dave Jordan said. “Eventually we saw some ones that we could get into. I thought that we made some nice adjustments.”

“We knew we were going to get some hits some time, and they came around third time up,” Norcross-Plourde said. “I got a curveball and I just smothered it into center field.”

Fayette-Staples, on the other hand, jumped on St. Pierre early. Searle-Belanger singled with one out in the bottom of the first, and Lambert followed with a double. Evan Balzano then drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice groundout.

Brandon Hall and Zach Hall each had RBI hits in the third, and another run scored on a wild pitch.

Fayette-Staples collected six hits off St. Pierre the first two times through the order. Luke Chessie then started the third time through with a single in the fourth to put two on with no outs.

“It’s a long game. Nine innings is a long baseball game,” Jordan said. “And you just have to keep grinding and try to minimize damage and give yourself an opportunity. I think that even though we got down 4-0, we never felt like we were out of it.”

St. Pierre’s resiliency showed.

“He threw strikes. That’s all we need,” Norcross-Plourde said.

The Rogers Post starter struck out just four batters, instead relying on groundballs and his teammates to make outs from them. After the fourth inning, they did just that.

“When Damien throws, that’s typically how we perform, is that he works pretty quick, throws strikes. The guys know it’s going to be put in play, and they’re ready and they’re on their toes to make plays,” Jordan said. “It all came into action today.”

St. Pierre lasted into the ninth inning, then allowed a one-out triple to Searle-Belanger. Lambert followed with an RBI single, cutting the deficit to 7-6.

Jordan brought in Gavin Bates to try to close things out. The fireballer did his job, sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a walk to seal the victory.

“We had Gavin waiting to come in at any point,” Jordan said. “It’s such a difference when you bring in a guy that throws that hard compared to a guy that’s hitting his spots like Damien was.”

Rogers Post moves into the winner’s bracket of the tournament, and will face Zone 3 champion Yankee Ford of South Portland on Thursday at 4 p.m.

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