BANGOR — Tyler Tash pitched a complete game and forced home the winning run when hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th to lift Lincoln Lumber to a 4-3 victory over Motor City in the opening game of the 2010 American Legion Zone 1 baseball tournament at the Winkin Complex on Thursday.
Tash, a recent graduate of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, scattered seven hits — none after the fourth inning — while striking out six batters and walking six during a 150-pitch effort.
“As the game went on I got the feel of my pitches and got used to everything,” said Tash, a righthander who overcame a 40-pitch third inning when he walked three batters with the bases loaded. “The mound’s a little different than I’m used to, but I got used to everything and everything fell into place.”
Tash needed to be durable to offset a stellar performance by Motor City righthander Casey Estes, who allowed three runs on six hits in nine innings.
Yet it was Tash’s back, not his bat, that ultimately ended this contest.
Lance Bernier led off the Lincoln 10th inning with a first-pitch single up the middle off Motor City reliever Chris Hammond, and went to third with no one out on an errant throw after he stole second base.
Andy Kay and Ivan Voisine then were intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force play at any base.
Hammond then struck out the next batter before Tash was hit between the shoulder blades by a 1-2 pitch to force home Bernier with the winning run.
“I was taking that the whole way,” said Tash. “It came in on me, I turned and it hit me. Game winner, I’ll take it.
No. 4 Lincoln (9-8) advances to the four-team, double-elimination phase of the tournament that begins Friday against either top-seeded Bangor or No. 2 Brewer.
No. 5 Motor City ends its season at 8-9.
Ryan Beers blasted the first pitch of the bottom of the second inning over the left-field fence to give Lincoln a 1-0 lead. Tash followed with a single, was sacrificed to second by A.J. Harris and scored on singles by Donnie Russell and Dakota Sleeper to make it 2-0.
Motor City took its first lead in the top of the third. Singles by Jonathan Johnson, Ryan Carr and Estes loaded the bases, and three runs scored as Tash issued consecutive two-out walks to Cody Cross, Dan LeBreton and Bill Wetherbee.
Lincoln tied the game with a run in the bottom of the inning. Bernier drew a leadoff walk, went to third on a hit-and-run single by Andy Kay and scored on an infield groundout by Ivan Voisine.
But both pitchers quickly settled down, with Estes retiring 16 batters in a row starting with Voisine’s RBI groundout and Tash retiring 18 of 21 batters through the ninth inning.
Lincoln threatened twice in the late innings.
Bernier ended Estes’ streak with a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth, and then stole second before Andy Kay was walked intentionally. Estes got out of the jam by getting Voisine to hit a comebacker to the mound that Motor City turned into a 1-6-3 double play.
Beers led off the Lincoln ninth with a slow chopper toward third base that was mishandled for the game’s first error. Pinch-runner Dylan Bouchard then advanced to second on a wild pitch by Estes, and went to third on a sacrifice by Tash.
Harris and Logan McLaughlin then were issued intentional walks to load the bases. The strategy worked as pinch-hitter Ryan Thompson grounded to shortstop Phil Benoit, who forced Bouchard out at home.
Sleeper then lined a low, hard shot toward Benoit, and while the shortstop couldn’t come up with the ball it caromed off his glove right to second base, where Carr picked up the ball and stepped on the basefor the inning-ending forceout.
Motor City (8-9) 003 000 000 0 — 3 7 2
Lincoln (9-8) 021 000 000 1 — 4 7 1
Estes, Hammond (10) and LeBreton; Tash and Harris