AUBURN — The 2019 American legion baseball season began with rust and mistakes for Pastime as Topsham Post entered Auburn’s Pettengill Park and left with a 10-2 season-opening win on Tuesday.

Topsham pitcher Hunter Lohr pitched six innings of one-run ball and gave up just five hits. Lohr had success against Lewiston High School during the spring season when he pitched for Mt. Ararat, so the transition to Legion ball and facing mostly Lewiston batters was an advantage.

“It was a little bit in the back of my mind,” Lohr said. “Every game is a new game, every team is a new team. I just tried to bring the same fight that I brought to that game.”

Pastime coach Chris Reed saw his players be thrown off-kilter by Lohr’s unorthodox delivery in which he swings his leg high above his chest, a-la former major leaguer Dontrelle Willis.

“His delivery bothers people,” Reed said. “A lot of guys have trouble tracking the release point. They follow the whole windup and get mesmerized by that. We had the same trouble with the Lewiston High School team, which I am sure is why we saw him tonight.”

Lohr took down Pastime’s lineup in order for the first three innings, striking out two batters and forcing a few fly balls.

While Pastime was struggling to get the ball moving on offense, the team’s defense was an equal problem.

After Pastime starter Brodi Farinas went 1-2-3 in the first inning, everything fell apart in the second.

Nick Merrill walked to begin the inning, followed by a stolen base and a move to third after Trey Booty safely bunted to move Merrill and Austin Damon, who reached on an error, over a base to load them up.

Next up was Cam Daly, who was out on a pop-up until the home plate umpire called catcher interference on the swing, allowing Merrill to score and for Topsham to keep the bases juiced.

Damon then scored on a balk to make it 2-0. Two batters later, Cody Holman smacked a hit that scored two more runs to give Topsham a 4-0 lead after two innings.

Topsham added three more runs in the third when Damon reached second base after a dropped fly ball in the outfield. Damon scored later when, after Merrill singled, he stole home as the throw from catcher Brock Belanger behind the plate tried to nab Merrill stealing at second to make it 5-0.

Merrill stole third and then was knocked home on a fielder’s choice after a Jackson Walker base on balls. Walker scored on a wild pitch to extend Topsham’s lead to seven.

“Early mistakes,” Reed said. “Give them credit, they fouled off pitches and made Brodi work, but we can’t give teams extra outs and you have to catch fly balls. Then, momentum is a funny thing. They jump out on us and are feeling good and we aren’t feeling so good. It’s just the snowball effect. Fortunately, it’s the first one. Leave this one at the door.”

In the fourth, after Topsham added another run, Pastime finally got on the scoreboard. Belanger started the inning off with a single and a stolen base, followed by a double by Owen Cox that scored the runner. Ethan Brown drilled a double into left-center field to score Cox, cutting the deficit to six runs.

Pastime relievers Jack LeBlond and Ryan Burnham gave up two runs in the final four innings, but the damage had already been done.

After just one practice, Topsham coach AJ Booty was excited with how his players came together.

“Just getting the guys relaxed because they get so uptight up there, so I just want them to relax,” Booty said. “We have guys that struggled through their school season and I’m not a yell-and-scream guy so I just want them to have fun.”

Lohr struggled at the plate, but his impact on the mound was felt on both sides.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Booty said. “He’s finished a lot of games for Ararat this year. I want to get out and start on a win.”

For Lohr, however, the outing would never have happened without his catcher’s help.

“My catcher Scout Masse called a great game,” Lohr said. “Everything was on him. He read the batters perfectly and did what we needed him to do, so, I give a lot of credit to Scout.”

American Legion’s Jacob Arel gets caught in a pickle between Topsham Post’s Cam Dunton and Austin Damon during Tuesday afternoon’s baseball game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/ Sun Journal

Topsham Post’s Cam Dunton slides back to first base after a steal attempt during Tuesday night’s baeball game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/ Sun Journal

Brodi Farinas fires the ball over the plate during Tuesday night’s baseball game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/ Sun Journal

Scout Masse for Topsham slide safely back to first base as Damon Bosse waits for the ball during Tuesday night’s baseball game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/ Sun Journal

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