Coaches don’t expect anybody to run away with the American Legion baseball championship, an eight-team, double-elimination tournament that starts Wednesday at the Capitol Area Recreation Association fields in Augusta.
“Looking at it on paper, I don’t think there’s one team that stands higher than the others,” said Dave Jordan, manager of the Past Time Club, the Zone 3 champion from Lewiston.
“Like most tournaments, it’s going to come down to pitching and defense,” said Ray Petit, manager of Zone 5 champion Fayette-Staples Post of Saco. “When you get to the tournament, everybody can hit. If you’re giving extra outs, you’re going to get into trouble.”
“There are a lot of teams who have guys who can throw strikes,” Jordan said. “It should make for an interesting weekend.”
The tournament includes two teams from Cumberland, Penobscot and York counties, and one team each from Androscoggin and Kennebec counties.
Before the zone playoffs began two weeks ago, it looked like the Bangor Comrades were the team to beat after a 20-1 regular season.
But Brewer beat them twice in the four-team, double-elimination district tournament to claim the Zone 1 title.
The Past Time Club, which lost to First Title of Portland in last year’s tournament final, has a small core of players remaining from the 2010 and 2011 state championship teams.
“We have a nice mix of veteran guys who have been through the wars and young guys who have stepped in and made contributions,” Jordan said.
A few teams may be peaking at just the right time.
“We’ve got two good pitchers who pitched well and we hit the ball at the right time in the zone playoffs,” said Greg Souza, manager of Zone 4 champion Biddeford & Saco Savings, which includes six players from Westbrook High, the Class A state champion.
After losing to top-seeded Staples Crossing three times in the regular season, Fayette-Staples rolled to a 14-8 victory in the Zone 5 final.
“The last third of the season we had a little spell — we lost 4 of 6,” Petit said. “Then things came together and we started to hit the ball and play better defense.”
Fayette-Staples Post is made up primarily of players from Thornton Academy. Staples Crossing includes players from Marshwood High and Traip Academy.
Last Saturday, Windham, which finished the regular season with the best record in Zone 3, rolled to a 12-4 victory against Zone 2 runner-up Madison to earn its second straight trip to the state tournament.
“Our strength is our pitching and our defense,” Windham Coach Brody Artes said. “We’ve got a lot of guys we can put out on the mound.”
The winner of the five-day tournament will advance to the Northeast regional Aug. 8-12 at Middletown, Conn.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at [email protected]