AUGUSTA — There are different ways to win a championship in a double-elimination tournament.
For the Windham Merchants, it was an edge-of-your-seat kind of tournament until the title game.
Windham didn’t need any late inning rallies Monday, taking control early and breezing to its first American Legion state baseball title with a 9-1 win over Biddeford and Saco Savings of Westbrook at Morton Field.
Losing its first postseason game last Wednesday to Westbrook, Windham never lost again. The Merchants faced elimination four times, five counting the championship game, and won each, including a 5-4 win over Bangor Sunday morning when they scored two runs in the top of the ninth. The path to the title included two wins over Westbrook
“We had to win every one after we lost to Westbrook in our first game last Wednesday,” said Windham Coach Brody Artes.
Playing Westbrook for a third time in the tourney, the Francoeur twins, Joey and Shawn, provided the bulk of Windham’s offense in the title win, combining to drive in five of the nine runs.
The brothers also contributed on the mound as Windham showed its pitching depth, using five pitchers. Joey, a lefty, was Windham’s third pitcher and Shawn, a righty, followed.
Windham pounded out 11 hits. Three pitchers held Westbrook to three hits through seven innings of the nine-inning game.
“We hit the ball well all tournament,” said Artes, also the high school coach.
“We put up some big numbers during the tournament. It was good for us to jump out to a lead. We have a lot of pitching depth.”
Windham will play in the Northeast Regional in Middletown, Conn., which runs from Thursday to Monday.
Windham, the home team, led 1-0 after one inning and then took control with a four-run, fifth inning. It scored four more times in the seventh.
“We were known as a comeback team during the season,” said Joey Francoeur.
“We were just trying to put the ball in play and have them make a play. We’ve been practicing so hard and to get here feels awesome.”
Calvin Field led off the bottom of the first with a single to left center. He moved to second on Spencer Hodge’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Joey Francoeur’s single to right.
Francoeur nearly put one over the fence in the fifth inning, but center fielder Joe Quinlan made a circus catch. In the fifth, Francoeur doubled home two runs. A batter later, Shawn Francoeur, doubled to drive in two more runs.
Windham made it 9-0 in the seventh. Cody Dube, Nate Boyle and Dennis Meehan had RBI singles.
Meehan started the game for Windham, pitching three innings before Tanner Laberge came in at the start of the fourth. Dube pitched the ninth.
Joey Francoeur hit the ball hard in his five plate appearances.
“Joey had a big tournament,” said Artes. “He hit the ball well the last couple of games in our zone and continued it in the state tournament. He’s batting around .400.”
Westbrook scored its run in the eighth when Austin Blake singled home tourney MVP Robbie Hamilton.
Westbrook (14-8), the Zone 4 winner, was hoping to add another state title on the same field where it won the Class A championship over Messalonskee in June.
Westbrook got men on base in the early going as Windham pitchers issued six walks through five innings.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” said Westbrook Coach Greg Souza.
“We hit some balls hard, but right at them. Windham came out and pitched well. They made the plays.”
Many legion teams are bolstered by players who return to play after their freshman year in college. Dube, an all-SMAA selection in 2012, played at Keene State.
In addition, Meehan, who played at Gardiner High, became eligible to play for Windham when his parents moved there in February. Meehan finished his school year at Gardiner.
“They improved what was an already strong team,” said Artes of Dube and Meehan.
TOURNEY NOTES: Joey Francoeur was named to the all-tourney team along with teammates Dube and Boyle. Westbrook was represented on the all-team by Hamilton, Keenen Lowe, Zack Bean and Sam Stauble. Other players named were Justin Courtney, Hunter Boyce and Curtis Worcester of Bangor and Noah McDaniel, Max McComb and Zack Quintal of Staples Crossing. Also named were Corbin Hyde of Lewiston and Zack Lachance of Red Barn.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org