Cougar rally falls short in regional final
STANDISH -- Prior to the game, Dirigo echoed the adage of early and often, regarding the ability to score runs. However, the latter materialized late and a seventh inning rally simply came up a little short.
The Cougars started slow, but got the offense going by scoring five runs in the top of the seventh, with the tying and go-ahead runners on base, but the efforts were not enough as Saint Dominics won 7-6 to reclaim the Class C Western regional championship.
Dirigo had entered the final frame trailing 7-1 and things looked bleak under the lights on Mahaney Diamond at Saint Joseph's College.
TJ Frost drew a one-out walk, but Spencer Ross flew out to centerfield. Caleb Turner singled and Arik Fenstermacher walked to load the bases. Ben Holmes and Justin Conant each delivered RBI singles. The Saints chose to stay with their starting pitcher and Cody St. Germain hit a two-run single to make it 7-5. Conant raced home on a wild pitch.
“That was a credit to the kids,” said Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer. “They certainly didn’t give up and we came back with two outs.”
Hunter Ross walked and the Saints brought in Alex Parker, who induced Chad Snowman to hit a lazy fly ball for the final out.
Dirigo had been held in check as Spencer Ross had two singles over the first six innings.
The Cougars had beaten the Saints in the 2010 regional championship and in the 2011 MVC championship game.
The Cougars had scored an unearned run in the third. Snowman led off with a walk and Frost had a sacrifice bunt. Ross singled and Snowman was held by third base coach Dave Berry.
Snowman eventually scored when Turners groundball was booted.
Dirigo hurt itself by committing five errors, leading to unearned runs.
“Yes, those errors were very uncharacteristic for this team,” said Palmer.
Holmes had pitched the first four innings, with two runs scored on one hit, an RBI single by Kurt Johnson. Fenstermacher relieved to start the fifth inning and the wheels unraveled as the first five Saints batters reached safely and eventually scored. The Cougars extended things by throwing the ball away..
“That strategy had worked well for us this season,” said Palmer. “We’d have Ben start and then bring (southpaw) Fensty in. Tonight, our plan didn’t work out.”
Dirigo had limited opportunities. In the fifth, Spencer Ross singled, stole second, and advanced on a Turner's fly out. The inning ended with a Fenstermacher ground out.
Dirigo catcher Justin Conant tags out a St. Dom's baserunner at the plate. (Photo courtesy of John Volkernick)