SOUTH PORTLAND – For the second time in less than a week, Gayton Post of Lewiston rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull out a pivotal American Legion baseball victory.

Last Saturday, Gayton scored three runs in its final at-bat to pull out a 10-9 victory against Libby-Mitchell Post of Scarborough to earn a berth in the eight-team state tournament.

Friday, Gayton pulled off another ninth-inning rally for an 8-7 victory against two-time defending state champion Nova Seafood at the Wainwright Sports Complex to become the lone unbeaten team in the double-elimination tournament.

The tying and winning runs scored with two outs after John Hardy dropped a fly ball in right field.

Nova Seafood Coach Mike D’Andrea said the dropped fly ball was just one of several mistakes his team made.

“(Mistakes) are very uncharacteristic of a Nova team, but I will say this, we got outplayed at the offensive end and at the defensive end,” he said.

“We’re very lucky to be up 7-5 going into the ninth inning. Very lucky. We didn’t play smart. We didn’t take aggressive at-bats. It’s simple. We got outplayed.”

The victory guaranteed Gayton a spot in Sunday’s championship game.

When play resumes today, Nova Seafood (19-4) will play Augusta (19-7) at 11 a.m. in an elimination game.

Bessey Motors (20-4), which has one tourney loss, will play Gayton (22-3) at 3 p.m.

Nova Seafood, made up primarily of players from Deering High in Portland, collected 17 hits but never led by more than than three runs.

“Our kids fought and clawed,” Gayton Coach Todd Cifelli said. “We limited the big innings that they had, and we got the job done.”

Nova Seafood opened the scoring in the third when Devon Fitzgerald tripled into the right-field corner and scored on Travis Wade’s sacrifice fly.

It added a run when Nick Colucci led off the fourth with a single, stole second and scored on Nick DiBiase’s single.

Nova took a 3-0 lead when Johnny Miranda led off the fifth with a triple and scored on Fitzgerald’s single.

Gayton scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to move into a 5-3 lead.

After a single and an error put runners at second and third, Scott Ouellette drove in both runners to make it 3-3. After a walk and Mat Gordon’s sacrifice again put runners at second and third, Luke Cote drove in both runners with a bloop single to right.

In the seventh, Nova Seafood loaded the bases with no outs. It scored two runs to tie the score on a single by Colucci and Kyle Danielson’s grounder to second.

After Nova Seafood loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, Sam Balzano lined a two-run single into right field for a 7-5 lead.

But Nova Seafood couldn’t hold on.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Cote singled up the middle and Alex Wong was hit by a pitch.

McKae Hyde drove in one run with a single to right. After Jeff Keene reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners at the corners, Greg Labonte lofted a fly to right.

Both base runners scored when the ball glanced off Hardy’s glove.

“We’ve got to come with intensity from pitch one and we didn’t do that,” D’Andrea said.

“I give Gayton Post a lot of credit. They didn’t die. They didn’t quit.”

BESSEY MOTORS 12, BREWER 11: Bessey Motors rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to eliminate Brewer.

Evan Humphrey, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save, belted a grand slam in the eight-run fourth inning to propel Bessey Motors into a 9-3 lead.

Brandon Gendreau hit a two-run homer in the five-run fifth to help pull Brewer back within a run.

Brandon Chase came up with two singles and a double for Bessey Motors.

Bessey Motors is made up primarily of players from Oxford Hills High, the Class A state champion.

AUGUSTA 7, BANGOR 4: Charlie Partridge drove in three runs with a double and three singles as Augusta eliminated Bangor from the state tournament.

Eric Lee, the winning pitcher, scattered five hits and struck out six in eight innings.

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

[email protected]