OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — Concord Post 21 hasn’t produced much offense in the American Legion Northeast Regional Tournament, but what little offense Concord came up with Saturday certainly came at the right time.
Trailing by two runs and facing elimination, Concord scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning and hung on for a 3-2 triumph over Saratoga, N.Y.
David Drouin (Merrimack Valley) collected what turned out to be the game-winning RBI when his single scored Patrick Cannon with one out in the sixth. Cannon’s run handed Concord a 3-2 lead.
“I’ve been slumping for a while now,” Drouin said. “I can’t remember the last time I got a solid hit. It felt good to get a single there. It was perfect timing.”
Concord did all of its scoring against Brian Carr, Saratoga’s ace. Carr,w ho surrendered six hits in eight innings, entered the game with a 10-0 record and a 1.23 ERA.
“He was one of the best pitchers we’ve faced all year,” Concord coach Bryan Caruso said “We got some timely hits, and you could kind of see the energy come out of them a little bit when we went ahead. Our pitching held the lead, and that’s been our strength.”
Concord has scored eight runs in its three tournament games.
Autrey Gates (Pembroke Academy) picked up the win for pitching 7 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs on four hits, walked three and struck out six. Gates pitched in relief in each of Concord’s first two tournament games.
Josh Partridge (Concord) retired the only batter he faced when he got Chris Pescetti — Saratoga’s cleanup hitter — to fly out to center with two outs and runners on first and third in the eighth. Although he allowed a hit and walked a batter, Drouin pitched a scoreless ninth.
“The pitching was unbelievable,” Caruso said. “For Gates to give us what he did — he’s been doing it all year. And then Josh Partridge comes in in a big situation. We told him he was going out there for one batter and he got the job done. We wanted to get to David in the ninth, but we didn’t want to use him in the eighth.”
Saratoga grabbed a 2-0 lead on Dale Long’s two-run single in the third. Alex Lushkevich (single) and John Natale (walk) scored on the play.
Concord got on the board when Sam McManus scored on Eddie Dionne’s sacrifice fly, and then Ben Bengston tied the game when he scored from second on Dillon Emerson’s single to center. Drouin then followed with a single to the gap in right-center that scored Cannon with the go-ahead run.
“You don’t see a lot of teams right now getting four or five doubles a game,” Caruso said. “It’s a lot of the small-ball stuff, which I think is an advantage for us because we’ve used [wooden bats] all year and that’s how we’ve played.”
The loss eliminated Saratoga (38-9) from the tournament. Concord (26-6) will play an opponent to be determined today at either 1 p.m. or 7 p.m. Today’s pairings weren’t finalized until after Saturday night’s final game because teams are not allowed to play opponents they have already faced in the tournament unless the situation can’t be avoided.
Regardless of the opponent, Caruso said Sam Bonifant (Hopkinton) will be Concord’s starting pitcher today. Bonifant (3-2, 4.730) has not pitched in the tournament.
“We’re excited,” Caruso said. “At this point is our pitching depth as good as other teams? Just like in the New Hampshire state tournament, when we got to the fourth or fifth day we felt like we had the depth to compete.”
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Roger Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.