AUGUSTA – The Windham Merchants took the field Sunday at the American Legion baseball state tournament knowing that they needed two victories to claim the championship.
They got the first win, then were forced to wait another day to try for the other.
Threatening skies caused postponement of the championship game Sunday afternoon between Windham and Saco & Biddeford Savings of Westbrook. They’ll meet for the state title at 2 p.m. Monday at Morton Field.
“We called the weather bureau, and at first they told us we were going to have a heavy downpour lasting almost an hour, then a break and another (downpour) coming behind it, so that’s what we went with,” said Chuck Berube, state director of American Legion baseball.
“This is an important game, it’s the 15th game, and do we want to put these kids out there where they could slip and pull a groin muscle?”
Windham Manager Brody Artes was not happy with the decision.
“I think things look fine,” he said. “The field’s in good shape.”
The decision was made after Windham rallied for a 5-4 win over Bangor. A steady drizzle forced the grounds crew to place tarps around the plate area and on the pitching mound.
“Actually, the water that we got helped (the field) out a little bit,” Artes said. “We’ve got clear skies on the way in, and both teams are ready to go. Now, we’ve got to come back tomorrow. I think we definitely could have gotten (the game) in today.”
Westbrook Coach Greg Souza agreed with the decision to postpone the game until Monday.
“I didn’t want to start and stop,” he said. “If we played, I wanted to keep on playing, but I know what the weather forecast is.”
Souza said the game is too important to have the weather affect the outcome.
“I would hate to have a team lose because an outfielder slips and falls down and a ball drops and the winning run scores,” he said. “So we’ll come back tomorrow and play.”
Against Bangor, the Merchants rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth to pull out a 5-4 win and advance to the championship game for the first time.
“It was another great comeback for us,” Artes said. “The kids did a great job. It was definitely emotional for us. We were down to our last three outs, and we got some key hits.”
Cody Dube led off the ninth with a double and Shawn Francouer was hit by a pitch. Consecutive singles by Tanner LaBerge, Nate Boyle and Dennis Meehan produced the runs.
It was the fourth time Windham has avoided elimination after losing its opener against Westbrook, 8-7.
Windham remained alive Saturday by pulling out a 7-6 win against Pastime Club of Lewiston and rolling to a 10-6 win over Westbrook.
Monday’s starting pitchers — Shawn Francouer of Windham and Zack Bean of Westbrook — are both eligible to pitch nine innings.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: