Yankee Ford’s David Drew hits a ground ball toward Pastime third baseman Jack LeBlond. (Adam Robinson/Sun Journal)

BANGOR — Pastime took a five-run lead in the second inning, but Yankee Ford head coach Andy Coulombe knew his team had too much pride to lay down.

Coulombe was right, and Yankee Ford scored seven unanswered runs over the last four innings to win 7-5 and eliminate Pastime 7-5 from the American Legion baseball state tournament Monday afternoon.

“There was a lot of heart there, a lot of heart,” Coulombe said. “We went down early, but you just have to believe. You can’t hang your head until seven innings are done, for a reason.”

Both teams were sat down in order in the first inning but Pastime got the bat on the ball frequently in the top of the second. Evan Cox got on base on a fielder’s choice and later scored on a bunt single from Gordon Beckwith, one of seven singles for Pastime in the second inning alone. Next up was pitcher Lucas Francis, who drove a single and later scored in the inning.

Even after a 5-0 deficit, Yankee Ford starting pitcher Brandon Burnell stayed the course.

“I was telling myself just bare down,” Burnell said. “Every game it seems like there’s one inning where stuff goes wrong with little hits and big hits. Just bare down and play how you know how to play. Throw strikes and it will all follow through.”

It would take Yankee Ford until the third inning to get on the board. Leadoff hitter Jake Poole hit a single into right field and later scored on a double by Riley Hasson to make it 5-1.

Yankee Ford put it all together in the fourth. In the top half, they got out of a jam with a double play at second to end the inning. In the bottom half, Will Snyder legged-out an infield single and was driven home three batters later. Cam King followed Snyder with an infield single of his own and came around to score a couple batters later.

Yankee Ford scored three runs in the fourth, one with two outs, to make it a one-run game.

“I think it’s tough to give that team four outs in a couple innings,” Pastime head coach Jake Brown said. “You need to make the plays against those guys if you’re going to beat them, the way they were swinging.”

Burnell knew to stick with the game plan throughout.

“After that first inning we were hitting the kid pretty good,” Burnell said. “They were telling us we were going to do it, and I knew we would. We’ve always scored runs, I felt good about our team scoring runs and they came through and battled back.”

Pastime trotted out Owen Cox in the fifth in relief of Francis, but it didn’t stop Yankee Ford. Nolan Brown reached on an infield single and tied the game three batters later via an RBI single from Will Prescott.

Coulombe stuck with Burnell through the sixth inning, even after Pastime’s five-run second. Coulombe and Burnell bet on Yankee’s early contact to turn into hits, and they were successful.

“Brandon is a competitor,” Coulombe said. “He probably hasn’t let up five runs all year … In order to stay in the game and compete, he was our best option and he shut it down from there. Early in the game we were hitting a lot of fly balls, so we made some adjustments, put the ball on the ground, make the defense work a little bit, and we took advantage of a couple miscues.”

Hasson drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the sixth for Yankee Ford. He then moved to second a sacrifice bunt and later was driven home on a single by Snyder. A sacrifice fly by King scored Brogan McDonald to make it 7-5, which was enough to keep Pastime away.

Burnell knew it was only a matter of time before his team’s offense came alive.

“I felt good about our team scoring runs, and they came through and battled back,” Burnell said. “Even if you’re not getting hits, line drives and things like that are going to fall and you’re going to get hits.”

Pastime, giving up runs with two outs created too big of a hole to dig out of.

“I think we are there — that was the message to the kids after, we are there and that’s not a team we can’t beat,” Brown said. “Every play matters in a double-elimination state tournament, and I think a couple of times there were two outs and we could have gotten that third out but they scored a couple runs and that was the difference.”


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