AUBURN — The strategy was simple heading into Saturday’s Junior American Legion Southern Division play-in baseball game at Auburn Suburban Field.

For the fifth-seeded Southern Maine Falcons of Freeport and No. 4 Rogers Post 153, the winner advanced to the state tournament beginning Thursday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

Dave Jordan’s Rogers Post squad did everything right, playing a complete game in a 10-0 five-inning mercy-rule victory, ending the Falcons’ season at 7-10, while itself improving to 10-7.

On the mound, Adrien Melanson tossed a complete game one-hitter, permitting a clean single to left field in the third inning to Southern Maine’s Blaine Cockburn and a second-inning walk to Willets Meyers. Melanson struck out four.

“I was pounding the zone and relying on my defense, and that allowed me to be me,” Melanson said.

On the other side, Liam Holt was on the mound for the Falcons. Pitching without his spikes over the first four-plus innings (left at home), he threw the ball well. Of the 10 runs he allowed, only four were earned.

“I was surprised that he was looking as good as he was before he got the spikes,” said Falcons coach Peter Wagner after Holt struck out four in 4 2/3 innings. “Everything that could go wrong did, starting with our transportation over here today. It was one of those days. We had a couple days this summer where I said, ‘That wasn’t us today.’ I have that feeling today, and that is a tough thing on the last day of your season.”

After Melanson set the Falcons down in order on three fly balls in the first inning, Rogers Post went to work at the plate. Luke Josephson reached on an error, followed by an infield single by Dan Milks. With two outs, Will Cassidy ripped an RBI single inside the right-field line for a 1-0 Auburn lead.

The offense kept coming for the hosts in the second. Melanson led off with a double, followed by a single from Matt Wallingford and an RBI double off the bat of No. 9 hitter Austin Taylor. Wallingford scored on a ground ball by Colby Bell, and Christian Beliveau dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt for an RBI and a 4-0 Rogers Post lead.

Jordan felt the return of two players to his lineup and a reshuffled batting order helped his team’s offense.

“Some of the guys who were batting in the bottom of the lineup today were hitting in the top two or three a couple weeks ago,” said Jordan. “We had two guys back today, and it was kind of mix-and-match. I felt our lineup was going to be pretty strong.”

There was a lot of offense early, which helped, knowing that if I allowed a run that was OK,” Melanson said.

However, the righty didn’t allow much. Cockburn’s single in the third came with two outs, and Melanson retired the next Falcon hitter on a fly ball. He finished his complete game by setting down the final seven Falcons.

“The boys played well, and it was probably our most complete game of the season. Adrien did a great job on the mound, and the defense backed him up perfectly,” Jordan said.

The Falcons committed four damaging errors, leading to six unearned runs. In the third, Colin Merritt and Cassidy singled with one out. An error on a fly ball to shallow right field allowed Merritt and courtesy runner Alex Avila to score for a 6-0 game.

In the fourth, Taylor doubled for a second time and Bell dropped a bunt, with Holt slipping to the ground in his tennis shoes. He changed into spikes purchased at an area sporting goods store and nearly escaped the frame. He induced a two-out ground ball that was thrown away, and Taylor and Avila trotted home. Rogers Post ended the game in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Taylor, who was 3-for-3.

Despite the loss, Wagner was pleased with his first-year program.

“I’m very happy with what we did with this group of guys, being a first-time junior legion team. Next March, they will not be strangers and will be ready to go for high school baseball,” the Freeport coach said.

Wallingford, Merritt and Cassidy were each 2-for-3 for Rogers Post.


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