BANGOR — Just as the Acadians of Blue Hill were one pitch away from escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam unscathed in the eighth inning Thursday night, Josh Tardiff opted to re-write the script.
The Hampden-Newport first baseman cracked a three-run double to break a 5-5 tie and lift the sixth- ranked Riverdogs to a 9-5 victory in their American Legion Zone 1 baseball play-in game.
The win advances Hampden-Newport (9-8) to the double-elimination phase of the zone tournament and a matchup at 7 p.m. Friday against No. 1 Bangor — the team the Riverdogs defeated in their regular-season finale to earn the final berth in the six-team event.
“It helped out a lot when we beat Bangor,” said Hampden-Newport coach Nick Arthers. “These kids have that mentality now that they can beat anyone if they put their minds to it and do what they have to do.”
No. 2 Brewer will play No. 4 Lincoln Lumber in Friday’s first game at 4 p.m.
The third-ranked Acadians finish with a 10-7 record.
Two walks and a wild pitch on a third strike to Nolan Turner that allowed him to reach first loaded the bases with no outs in the Hampden-Newport eighth.
Acadians righthander Andrew Hodge struck out the next two batters and then worked the count to 1-2 against Tardiff before Tardiff pulled an inside fastball beyond the reach of left fielder Nolan Hall to clear the bases.
“The pitcher had shut us down with the last two batters,” said Tardiff, who also singled twice. “I was just trying to put the ball in play and see what happens, and I got a good pitch to turn on.”
Justin Rodgerson provided Hampden-Newport an insurance run in the top of the ninth, drawing a leadoff walk and then stealing second, third and home.
Righthander Justin Amoroso, who relieved older brother Derek on the mound in the seventh, made the lead stand up by retiring the Acadians in order over the final two innings.
“He came in and was a little slow to start but did what he had to do,” said Arthers. “He was able to shut them down late and help get us to the next game.”
Hampden-Newport took a 2-0 lead in the top of first. Turner hit a leadoff single up the middle, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a passed ball before scoring when Amoroso grounded out to third. Alex Cust followed with a single to left, and he went to third on an errant throw as he was stealing second before scoring as Tardiff reached on an infield error.
The Riverdogs added a run in the third as Cody Miller reached on an error, went to second on a single by Tardiff and was sacrificed to third by Justin Amoroso before scoring on a wild pitch.
The Acadians closed within 3-1 in the fourth as Mike Crowley drew a one-out walk, went to third when Devin Young’s single was misplayed in the outfield and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Nick Saunders.
The Acadians added another run in the fifth as Ross Saunders singled to right, went to third on an infield error and scored on Brad Folmer’s one-out double to right-center.
Turner then came up big offensively in the top of the sixth, flaring a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field for a two-run single to give Hampden-Newport a 5-2 lead.
The Acadians got one run back in the bottom of the inning, but threatened for more with the bases loaded with no one out. A sacrifice fly by Hall plated one run, but Tardiff forced out one runner at the plate on a grounder by Ross Saunders before Hampden-Newport starter Derek Amoroso got an inning- ending strikeout.
Nick Saunders’ two-run triple through the left-center field gap in the seventh off Justin Amoroso then pulled the Acadians even at 5-5.
Hampden-Newport (9-6) 201 002 031 — 9 11 5
Acadians (10-7) 000 111 200 — 5 6 5
D. Amoroso, J. Amoroso (7) and Miller; Dickinson, Hodge (6), Carlin (8) and Young