AUGUSTA, Maine — Chris Jacques has been a role player this summer for the Gayton Post of Lewiston.
Sunday afternoon, the backup infielder was among his team’s heroes.
Jacques stroked a pinch-hit, RBI single during a three-run ninth inning and capped the rally by scoring the winning run on a wild pitch, helping defending champion Gayton Post eliminate Brewer 8-7 in the American Legion baseball state tournament at sun-soaked Morton Field.
“I hadn’t played in a while, but I’ve been swinging well in BP (batting practice), so he (coach Todd Cifelli) said he’d give me a shot,” Jacques said.
Gayton Post (26-1), which breezed through an undefeated regular season, went on to claim the state title with a 15-6 victory over Augusta in Sunday’s finale.
“I’ve been a bench/role player, usually a defensive specialist,” said Jacques, who was confident his team could come back in the ninth.
“I knew we could pull it out,” he said.
In the championship game, Corbin Hyde pitched six innings and helped his own cause with four RBIs to pace Gayton to its second straight crown.
Hyde’s three-run home run and a two-run double by Chris Madden highlighted a six-run sixth inning that erased a 6-1 deficit and gave Gayton the lead for good, 7-6. The winners added three runs in the eighth and five more in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Jeff Keene belted a two-run homer, an RBI single and another single for Gayton, while Mekae Hyde added a two-run double and a single and Scott Ouellette posted two singles.
Cory Lapierre hit two home runs and knocked in five runs to propel Augusta (22-3) behind losing pitcher Ryan Minoty.
In Sunday’s first game, coach Chris Morris’ Brewer team could not overcome its eight errors and lack of clutch hits and finished the summer with a 22-7 record.
“I think some kids got tired and that’s what happens,” Morris said. “You get tired, you lose that focus a little bit.
“They’re (Gayton) a good team and that’s what happens with good teams,” he added.
Brewer’s fielding woes helped Gayton score four unearned runs, including three miscues that led to two runs in the fifth inning.
“During the regular season we played unreal defense,” said Brewer third baseman Eric White.
“We got here and we had like 20 errors in five games, something stupid. It’s not the way to win games,” he added.
At the plate, Brewer threatened all afternoon. The Falcons had two or more baserunners in eight different innings, but went 6-for-24 with runners in scoring position and stranded 17 men.
That included eight in the final three innings.
“Against good teams, you’ve got to capitalize on those (chances). You’ve got to get at least a couple across,” Morris said.
Gayton Post left 15 men on base and went 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
It was a dramatic finish for Gayton, which trailed 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth.
Jeff Keene ignited the rally with an infield single to the shortstop hole and raced to third when Shawn Ricker’s single to right was misplayed. Jacques then chased Falcons reliever Tim Nason with a run-scoring infield single to shortstop.
“I was just hoping to avoid the double play, so I was sprinting down to first base, but it go through,” Jacques said.”
Nason had held Gayton in check after relieving Pat McEwen with two out in the fifth. The righthander gave up only three hits while striking out two and hitting a batter in 3 2/3 innings.
Kyle McLain came on in relief of Nason and hit Luke Cote with a 1-2 breaking pitch, loading the bases. Alex Parker tied the game with a sharp, opposite-field single to right.
Jacques raced home when McLain’s 1-1 delivery to Mekae Hyde sailed to the backstop.
“In any game you play, the last three outs are always going to be the hardest,” Morris said. “They took advantage.”
The Falcons scored three times in the eighth off reliever Shawn Ricker to erase a 5-3 deficit. Tyler French led with a single, but was erased on a Brandon Gendreau fielder’s choice.
Ricker sandwiched walks to White and McLain around a groundout, before Nick Moore’s pop fly to left was dropped and allowed two runs to score. Pinch hitter Billy DeRedin followed with a bloop RBI single off Parker to left to make it 6-5 Brewer.
The Falcons added a run in the ninth against relief winner Joe Sullivan, but left runners at the corners.
Brewer piled up 16 hits, with seven starters registering two apiece. White and Jeremy Bissell each rapped a double and a single, while McLain singled twice and scored two runs. French, Gendreau, Moore (RBI) and Cody Farrell contributed two singles apiece.
Parker was the lone repeat hitter for Gayton with two singles. Corbin Hyde hit a two-run double in the third inning, while Trey Ouellette added an RBI single.
(Sunday’s First Game)
Brewer 101 010 031— 7 16 8
Gayton 002 120 003 — 8 11 1
McEwen, Nason (5), McLain (9) and Moore; Madden, Ricker (4), Parker (7), Sullivan (8) and M. Hyde
(Sunday’s Championship Game)
Augusta 000 312 00 — 6 5 3
Gayton 000 106 35x — 15 11 1
Minoty, Duncklee (8) and Burns; C. Hyde, Cote (7) and M. Hyde