AUGUSTA – Saco roared out of the losers’ bracket at the Little League baseball state tournament Thursday night to force an all-or-nothing finale.
Saco hit three home runs to roll to a 12-4 victory against Bayside of Portland at Linscott Field, handing Bayside its first loss in the double-elimination tournament for 11- and 12-year-olds.
The championship game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday with the winner advancing to the East regional Aug. 2-11 in Bristol, Conn.
“They’ve come out of the losers’ bracket and they’ve also beaten a team twice to win championships before,” Saco Manager Todd Duchaine said. “This is not new territory for them. Hopefully we can pull it off again.”
Nine of the 12 Saco players were on teams that won Little League under-9 and under-10 baseball state championships.
“They’re a good-hitting club,” Bayside Manager Chris Sawyer said. “We faced these guys before and they’re a good, well-coached team, for sure.”
The game was called after five innings because of rain.
Saco pitcher Brogan Searle-Belanger limited Bayside to three hits before leaving in the fifth inning after exceeding the 85-pitch Little League limit.
“Getting off to a good start was the key,” Duchaine said. “Obviously, having Brogan (Searle-Belanger) on the mound quiets any opposing team.”
Aside from giving up leadoff home runs to Walt Lewandowski in the second and Tre Fletcher in the third, Searle-Belanger, who struck out six and walked two, was in command.
“He throws hard but with the bats the kids have today, they get that bat through the (strike) zone on a pitch coming in that fast, it’s going to get out in a hurry,” said Duchaine. “We’re getting to the point where the kids are big and the ballpark starts to get small.”
Michael Bourgault snapped a 1-1 tie by belting a three-run homer in the bottom of the second to give Saco a 4-1 lead.
Tommy Smith, who had three hits, and Dan McLeer also homered for Saco, which scored in every inning. Searle-Belanger doubled twice and Anthony Brancamante singled twice.
Bayside, now 12-2 in tournament competition, sent Saco into the losers’ bracket Monday night with a 4-1 victory.
“We certainly have to get rid of some of the mistakes we made in the field,” Sawyer said. “We certainly have to locate pitches better than we did tonight. I think if we do that we’ll be fine.”
Bayside used five pitchers.
“Any time you get into these long drawn-out tournaments, pitching becomes a premium,” Sawyer said. “I think they had one of their top guys going tonight. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. We’re pretty deep on pitching and we’re a good hitting club as well.”
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: