LEWISTON

During Brock Belanger’s high school career at Lewiston, he was behind the plate on most days, catching in conditions that were often cold, hot, wet, or just about anything in between.

Belanger’s time behind the plate has continued with Pastime Club, where the left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing athlete has often suited up to catch both ends of a doubleheader in the heat and humidity, while also providing offensive punch for his team from the leadoff spot.

On Saturday in a Zone 2 Senior American Legion semifinal against No. 4 Augusta, Belanger had himself a day, including driving in four runs in his final two at-bats to rally Pastime Club to a 10-6 victory.

The win sends the top-seeded squad into the Zone 2 title game against No. 2 Bessey Motors, a 5-1 winner over third-seeded Rogers Post 153, today at 5 p.m., back on Elliot Field, while Augusta (8-9) visits Rogers today for a spot in the state tournament at Husson University next weekend.

“Brock is unbelievable, one of the best catchers in the league,” said Pastime Club coach Jake Brown of his cousin Belanger, who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two stolen bases. “He is a rock back there. At the high school level, catcher is one of the most important spots. Brock battles and just loves being out there. He is a competitor, and that is all that you can ask for.”

Augusta put a scare into Pastime Club, scoring five runs in the third to erase an early 3-0 deficit and adding a run in the fifth for a 6-3 advantage. However, hitting into three double plays and leaving seven runners on base hurt the visitors.

“Our bats got hot, but if you don’t put a good team like that away, this is what happens,” said Augusta coach Taylor Lockhart, whose athletes come from successful high school programs at Hall-Dale, Cony, Winthrop and Maranacook. “We left seven runners on base, and the double plays hurt us.”

Belanger singled to open the bottom of the first for the hosts. He stole a base, move to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a single by Jack LeBlond for a 1-0 lead. A sacrifice fly ball by Evan Cox plated Hunter Landry, giving the hosts a 2-0 edge after an inning.

In the second, Cooper Millett touched home on an infield single by Hunter Richardson, putting Augusta and starting pitcher Dean Jackman into a 3-0 hole.

Augusta rallies

The visitors put it all together in the third against Cox, batting around and receiving key RBI hits from Cole Lockhart, Aric Belanger and Jackman (two-run single), along with a sacrifice fly from Jackson Ladd to score five runs and grab a 5-3 lead.

“Give credit to Augusta. They hit the ball hard today, but we stayed in the game even when things were not going our way,” Brown said.

“Today, our pitchers didn’t have their best stuff, but (Augusta) were getting the bat on the ball and just working counts and getting hits,” said Brock Belanger.

Pastime Club threatened in both the third and fourth frames, but failed to score, and Augusta upped its lead to 6- 3 in the fifth when Lockhart, who was 2-for-3, scored on a sacrifice fly ball by Jackman ( three RBIs).

Richardson relieved Gordon Beckwith ( 1 1/ 3 innings, one strikeout, two walks, four hits) with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth, but kept his team in it on the strength of an inning-ending double play.

“We turned a couple double plays, and our pitchers picked up some key strikeouts,” Brown said. “ We stayed mentally into the game and didn’t allow the adversity to get to us. With our guys, I always think we are in the game because of the way we swing the bats.”

The fifth inning swung the game back into Pastime Club’s favor. Cox singled, and with two outs, Owen Cox walked. Pinch hitter Brodi Farinas picked up a key RBI single to close the deficit to 6- 4, and Brock Belanger sent a Jackman offering to right-center field for a game-tying tworun double, with the Pastime Club catcher giving a fist-pump.

“ Our team battles and doesn’t get down on itself,” Brock Belanger said. “That was exciting, a big hit.”

Brock Belanger advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Richardson’s grounder was misplayed for an error, giving Pastime a 7-6 lead.

Richardson kept Augusta off the scoreboard in the sixth after allowing a leadoff single to Austin Stebbins (3-for-4, one run), and his team added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth for a four-run lead. Again it was the lefty Belanger with a key hit, as he dropped a two-run single into left field. Lucas Francis of Lisbon also chipped in an RBI single in the sixth.

Richardson closed things out with a 1-2-3 seventh, giving Pastime Club a 14-3 record heading into today.

For Augusta, the season is not over.

“We are right there, winning games against Pastime and Rogers. We are focused on Monday now, and we know that we have a chance to get to the state tournament,” said Taylor Lockhart.

Evan Cox was 2-for-3 at the plate for Pastime Club, while Greg Fay picked up two hits for Augusta.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: