SOUTH PORTLAND – Jamie Ross threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief as two-time defending state champion Nova Seafood rallied to a 7-4 victory against Bessey Motors in the opening game of the American Legion baseball state tournament Wednesday at the Wainwright Sports Complex.

Nova, made up primarily of players from Deering High in Portland, recovered from an early 4-0 deficit to remain in the winners’ bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.

Today, Nova Seafood (18-3) will play Bangor (19-4) at 2 p.m., and Bessey Motors (19-3) will play Gardiner (16-7) in the losers’ bracket at 10 a.m.

Ross, a hard-throwing right-hander, was the difference Wednesday.

“The big thing is Ross shut us down,” said Bessey Motors Coach Shane Slicer. “We put the ball in play a little bit, but the strikeouts hurt us down the stretch.”

Ross, who also drove in two runs, allowed one hit, struck out five and walked three.

“If we didn’t get behind, it would have been a different scenario,” Nova Seafood Coach Mike D’Andrea said. “But I know this: It’s really hard to win a tournament if you lose Game 1. If I had my choice, I wouldn’t have used (Ross) this early, but at this point it’s kind of live or die.”

Bessey Motors, made up primarily of players from Oxford Hills High, the Class A state champion, scored four unearned runs in the fifth to break a scoreless tie.

Bessey Motors loaded the bases on D.J. Croy’s leadoff double, an error and a one-out walk to Matt Verrier. Brandon Chase drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center.

After two more runs scored on a throwing error by third baseman Devon Fitzgerald, Evan Humphrey singled in a run to make it 4-0.

Nova Seafood scored two runs in the top of the sixth on an error, a walk, a single by Ross and a grounder.

Bessey Motors loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth on consecutive one-out singles by Ethan Davidson, Croy and Travis Lenehan. But Ross relieved and retired the next two batters.

“We had some things going. We had guys in scoring position,” Slicer said. “We just didn’t get a key hit. He blew it by us. He was probably the hardest thrower we’ve seen all year.”

Ross’ fastball was clocked in the 82 to 86 mph range.

Nova Seafood scored three runs in the seventh to take the lead.

With one out, Fitzgerald tripled into the gap in right. After Travis Wade and Sam Balzano walked to load the bases, two runs scored on Chase’s throwing error following Nick Colucci’s grounder to shortstop to make it 4-4. Ross then lifted a bloop single to right to drive in the go-ahead run.

Nova Seafood added two runs in the eighth on two-out singles by John Miranda and Matt Bevilaqua, and Wade’s double.

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

[email protected]