Pastime’s Brodi Farinas is out upon reaching home plate as Bessey Motors’ catcher, Wyatt Williamson, fires the ball to first base. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

PARIS — In last year’s American Legion Zone 2 title game it took Bessey Motors 16 innings to defeat Pastime for the title.

Pastime head coach Jake Brown didn’t have to tell his players much Wednesday to get them motivated, and they needed only seven innings to hand Bessey its first loss of the season, 5-2.

Pastime carried a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. The Lewiston-based club had left two runners on base in the fourth, and Bessey had just scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning, swinging the momentum its way.

Pastime pitcher Owen Cox got a pop out for the first out of the fifth, but then walked Cam Slicer. That’s when catcher Brock Belanger saved the game. On a 0-1 count, Slicer took off for second. Belanger received the pitch and rifled a throw to second, where the tag was applied in plenty of time to get the out, ending a second rally in as many innings.

“I would love to get that pop time, that was really quick,” Brown said. “I think he had a good idea he was going to steal there, and that was really big. We had lost the momentum an inning before, and we had first-and-second and didn’t score, so I think that play really got the momentum back.”

Belanger knew the importance of the play.

“It was huge because they didn’t score to tie the game, and it was a big momentum change getting that guy out,” Belanger said.

Pastime entered the bottom of the sixth inning with Owen Cox on the mound trying to tame the hard-hitting bats that Bessey had coming up. Janek Luksza started the half-inning with a walk after a full count, which was followed by a single from cleanup-hitter Emery Chickering. After a ground out and a strikeout, Troy Johnson was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Wyatt Williamson.

On the first pitch Cox threw, Williamson drilled a grounder to first to end the inning, giving Pastime energy and momentum heading into the top of the seventh inning.

In the seventh, Belanger started the inning off with a base hit, reaching base to lead off the inning just as he had done to start the game off against Bessey pitcher Colton Carson. The next batter was Jack Leblond, who, just as he had done in the first, bunted Belanger to second base.

“It’s very important to get on and get my team rolling,” Belanger said. “A couple of times I had my guy right behind me, Jack, bunt me over and get me in scoring position, which was huge to get it going.”

Pastime starting pitcher Hunter Landry reached base next with a walk, followed by Evan Cox, who also walked. Back-to-back sacrifice flies scored  two more insurance runs for Pastime, and those were enough to seal the deal for the visitors.

“What I love about this team is that they just compete,” Brown said. “What you saw with Hunter and Owen pitching, they love being in big spots. They dug deep and competed.”

Bessey Motors wasn’t able to get a base runner on until the third inning, as Hunter Landry pitched four innings of two-hit, two-run ball. Bessey accrued 11 base runners on Wednesday but couldn’t push more home.

“Our bats have been pretty hot lately, and we just didn’t get the hit today,” Bessey coach Lance Bean said. “I tip my hat to Pastime, they played really well today and we just didn’t get the big hit when we needed to.”

In the top of the first inning, Belanger got on base with a bunt and later scored on a Landry double to right-center. Evan Cox slapped a single to score Landry and later scored off an error. Pastime’s three runs in the first inning set the tone for the game, a contest both teams were ready for from the start.

“These are the games that are really fun for the kids,” Brown said. “We didn’t have to say too much. I think both teams really have a goal of trying to get that top seed in the regular season, so I think both sides knew how big of a game this was.”

Bessey finally got the bats going in the fourth. Brayden Bean started the frame with a walk and eventually scored on a Hunter LaBossiere single. A sacrifice fly from Brayden Bean scored Chickering later in the inning to give Bessey its only two runs of the game.

“It’s nice to go undefeated, but I don’t know that we were planning on going undefeated,” Lance Bean said.

Pastime’s Cooper Millett slides into second base under the feet of Bessey Motors’ Rodney Bean during Wednesday night’s baseball game in Paris. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Bessey Motor’s Troy Johnson swings at the ball during Wednesday night’s baseball game in Paris. Behind him is Pastime catcher Brock Belanger. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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