BELFAST – Augusta West center fielder Mark McElmurray said assistant coach Norman Rutt has told him when he is in a jam at the plate, to “hit the ball up the middle.
“It always comes through,” grinned McElmurray after his two-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth tied the game and set the stage for Adam Vachon’s two-run seventh-inning homer that gave Augusta West the State Little League Tournament title by virtue of a 4-2 win over East Biddeford.
Augusta West went 4-0 in advancing to the Eastern Regional in Bristol, Conn. Augusta West plays the Massachusetts state champ Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the first of five games it will play under the new format with two, six-team divisions.
Ben Grant-Roy’s opposite-field homer to right-center had staked East Biddeford to a 2-0 lead in the fifth. It was Grant-Roy’s seventh hit in 13 state tourney at-bats.
But Jon Rutt started the game-tying sixth-inning rally with a bunt single and he continued to second on pitcher Kyle Fecteau’s throwing error. Miles Whitlock sliced a one-out opposite-field RBI double to left as the ball took a Whitlock moved to third on a groundout and scored on McElmurray’s sharp ground-ball single through the box on a 1-2 pitch.
After reliever and winner Whitlock pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the seventh by getting an inning-ending strikeout, Jake Albert opened the bottom of the seventh by reaching on a bunt single in front of the plate.
He moved to second on a wild pitch and rode home when Vachon belted a 3-2 pitch over the fence in right-center field for his first ever homer.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play,” said Vachon, son of Cony High girls basketball coach Paul Vachon and brother of University of Maine guard Amy Vachon and St. Joseph’s College infielder Aaron Vachon. “It was a fastball, low and outside. I knew it was gone when I hit it.”
It was Vachon’s fifth hit of the tournament in 11 at-bats.
Righthander Whitlock pitched two innings of one-hit relief to notch his second win of the tourney. He allowed three hits and no earned runs in his eight tourney innings.
Michael Vallee had pitched the first five innings for Augusta West, allowing four hits and two runs with four strikeouts and three walks.
Fecteau pitched well in defeat, allowing 10 hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
East Biddeford coach Dan Michaud said, “Every year at the state tournament, one team is touched by luck. Our kids played their hearts out but Augusta West made a few more plays than we did. They’re a great team.”
Vachon, Rutt, McElmurray and Jimmy Mayo had two hits apiece for Augusta West while Grant-Roy and Fecteau had two each for 2-2 East Biddeford.
East Biddeford (2-2) 000 020 0 – 2 5 2 Augusta West (4-0) 000 002 2 – 4 10 1
Fecteau and Grant-Roy; Vallee, Whitlock (6) and Whitlock, Albert (6)