SOUTH PORTLAND – Gayton Post erupted for 19 runs over the last four innings to roll to a 23-13 victory Wednesday against Fayette-Staples Post on the opening day of the American Legion baseball state tournament at the Wainwright Sports Complex.

Gayton Post, made up of players from Lewiston High School, pounded six relief pitchers for 15 hits after Fayette-Staples starter Keegan Sullivan allowed five hits over the first 51/3 innings of the nine-inning game, which lasted nearly 4 hours.

“Our relievers got down in the count and left the ball up, and they took advantage of it,” said Fayette-Staples Post Coach Ray Petit.

Play in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament continues today. Gayton Post (20-3) will play Brewer (16-5) at 4 p.m. in a winners’ bracket game. Brewer opened with a 5-2 win against Augusta.

Fayette-Staples, made up primarily of players from Thornton Academy in Saco, will play Augusta (17-7) at 11 a.m. in the losers’ bracket.

Fayette-Staples, making its third appearance in the state tournament in four seasons, took a 5-1 lead in the second inning when Chris Stasio belted a grand slam to snap a 1-1 tie.

After that, the game turned into the slugfest.

Gayton Post took the lead for good when it scored six runs in the eighth inning to break a 13-13 tie.

Reliever Corbin Hyde, a tall left-hander, threw three scoreless innings to earn the win.

“When you go to a nine-inning format in a tournament on a very hot day, I think bullpens come into play,” Gayton Post Coach Todd Cifelli said.

“You saw both teams go to their (bullpens), and Corbin Hyde was just a little bit better than they were. That might have been the difference. He really stabilized us.”

McKay Hyde, the Corbin’s older brother, and Greg Labonte, one of two players from St. Dominic in Auburn, each drove in four runs for Gayton. Alex Wong, who scored four runs, had a two-run homer among his four hits, and Corbin Hyde drove in three runs.

“It was just a great job by the kids to stay calm,” Cifelli said. “We drove the baseball and had some big innings and kind of slugged our way back into it.”

Stasio, a 2009 Thornton graduate who spent the past school year at Tilton School in New Hampshire, had three hits for Fayette-Staples. Steve Trask, who will attend the University of Maine this fall, slammed three run-producing doubles.

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

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