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Dirigo breaks deadlock late to win semifinal
Dirigo's Hunter Ross does his thing by creating havoc on the bases. In Saturday's contest, he swipes second easily despite the efforts of the Hall-Dale defender. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
Cougar shortstop Caleb Turner fields this grounder cleanly and fires to first to nab the Hall-Dale baserunner, stranging a man on third. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)
DIXFIELD -- The master plan might not have panned out, however, Dirigo baseball coach Ryan Palmer certainly wasn't arguing with the end results because the team did what was necessary to get the job done.
Caleb Turner singled home two runners in the fifth inning as the Cougars proved again that they remain up to the task in a 3-0 win against Hall Dale in a Western Class C semifinal game Saturday afternoon at sunny Harlow Park.
Senior Ben Holmes pitched a complete game two-hitter, extending his scoreless streak to 29 innings, while proving to overpower the Bulldog batters. Last month, Holmes pitched a two-hitter and the offense broke things open with seven runs in the top of the fifth inning as the Cougars triumphed 11-1 against Hall Dale in Farmingdale.
The semifinal game featured two quality pitchers -- Hall Dale's Ben Crooker and Holmes -- who matched each other and had the respective opposing batters completely baffled.
The score was scoreless when Tyler Frost led off the fifth by getting hit on his elbow. Brett Whittemore attempted a bunt, but the ball popped up and landed by the first base line. Crooker converged on the ball and let it be in hopes that the ball would roll foul off the dirt infield. It didn't and Whittemore reached safely. The Cougars continued to utilize small ball as Hunter Ross laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. T. Frost walked on four pitches to load the bases and Turner (two hits) took a pitch, then slapped a single, with Whittemore running right behind Tyler Frost toward home plate. T.J. Frost advanced on Chad Snowman's fly out and scored on a wild pitch.
“We needed to score a couple runs for Ben and we had hoped on scoring some sooner," said Turner.
Turner, Holmes, catcher Jake Dowland and first baseman Cody St. Germain, along with junior class marshal TJ Frost had limited sleep after having left Project Graduation in Waterville early. Palmer supplied bottles of five-hour energy.
"I knew we'd need to revert to small ball after the first inning," said Palmer, referring to the Cougars stranded two runners on base.
Ross beat out an infield hit, but was stranded on third base in earlier innings.
Dirigo extended its winning streak to 17 games and played (yesterday) in the regional championship game at Saint Josephs College for the fourth time in five years.