The calendar has flipped to the summer, but the narrative from the spring hasn’t entirely faded.

After lingering through a dreary and wet April and May that made a mess of the high school baseball season, rain dented the American Legion schedule as well. Entering this week, no teams had played all eight of their scheduled games, thanks largely to inclement weather June 20, last Tuesday and then this past Sunday.

“It’s tough on pitching and trying to line up my rotation, and getting plans for everything, getting everyone in the game,” South China coach Thad Barber said. “It’s a tough year, all the way around for everybody. … We’re going to have a lot of games in a short amount of time.”

South China first had a game against Skowhegan postponed on June 20, then a game against Augusta last Tuesday rained out, and then a rescheduled game against Franklin County called off.

“It’s been tough,” said Barber, whose team beat Franklin County Monday to improve to 2-4, “and it’s going to make it tougher when we start making these up and you have games to repay.”

No team has had a tougher time getting games in than Augusta, which entered the week having only played three of its eight scheduled contests due to both rain and games that went too late into the night and had to be suspended.

“The weather has made it tough for us to build any momentum,” Augusta coach David Stolt said. “We play a game and are rained out, we play a game and the game is suspended. … It seems like we’re dealing with rain constantly.”

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Augusta began the week with a 1-2 record, but Stolt figures that mark will improve quickly.

“We can play with anybody,” he said. “For us, I think it’s just a matter of getting into a routine where our guys can get a rhythm going.”

Augusta had lost to South China 3-1 and split a doubleheader with Hampden-based RH Foster, winning 10-9 and losing 9-2. Augusta also is in the midst of suspended games against Skowhegan (a 5-5 tie) and Ellsworth-based Acadians (a 4-0 deficit).

Stolt said the offense, led by Jackson Ladd, Akira Warren, Mitch Tarrio and Kyle Douin, has been clicking, but the pitching has needed some time to round into form.

With proven pitchers like Dean Jackman, Cole Lockhart and Douin in the mix, though, Stolt doesn’t doubt that they’ll get there.

“If we can start to get that rhythm on the mound a little bit, we’ll be fine,” he said. “Right now we’re just going real deep into counts and throwing lots of pitches. We just need to get a little more efficient there. I think we can compete with anybody, it’s just a matter of finishing games.”

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The Franklin County Flyers fell to 0-7 with a loss Monday to South China. With one of the younger teams at the senior Legion level, coach Kyle Gunzinger knew the season could be an eye-opening experience.

“We’re very young. We have one 18-year-old,” he said. “It’s frustrating for some of the kids, obviously, because you’ve got essentially a junior Legion to a Babe Ruth-aged roster, playing against many teams that have four or five kids playing college baseball. The physical difference between those two groups is immense.”

Gunzinger said his players tend to be competitive early, but show their youth with miscues that allow manageable deficits to spiral.

“It’s one of those things, what happens with young (players) sometimes is they tend to make one mistake, and one mistake turns into two or three mistakes,” Gunzinger said. “A lot of times we’re in games that end up being (losses by) nine, 10, 11 runs, and just making sometimes the simplest of plays would make it a 3-0 ballgame.”

Despite the disadvantages in experience and physical size, Gunzinger said he’s seen some progress from his group, and some on-field leadership from players like Logan Moffett, Trevor Phelps and Isaac Parker.

“It’s hard to see based on the scores and stuff, but there’s been immense improvement with a lot of them,” he said. “One of the great parts about Legion for some of these kids is they’re going to go back to high school and go ‘Jeez, this is pretty easy.”


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