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Saints down Cougars for MVC title
AUBURN -- It's not always how you start, but how you finish and the Dirigo certainly experienced the importance of the latter as it was unable to execute last Friday in the Mountain Valley Conference championship game.
Things began on a high note as the Cougars loaded the bases in the first inning and Kaine Hutchins smashed a triple to right field that plated TJ Frost, Hunter Ross and Chad Snowman.
But the early cushion proved to be the lone highlight for Dirigo because it was outscored by a wide margin the rest of the way as Saint Dominics rallied back for a 9-4 win. The game was played under sun-baked skies as the temperature reached over 90 degrees, as the two rivaled battled for the third time this spring. The teams had met four days earlier, with Dirigo winning 3-1 at Harlow Park.
In the MVC game, the chipper Ross had two hits to lead the offense. However, the Dirigo bats fell silent as the only other run came in the fourth inning.
Hutchins started on the mound and held the Saints batters in check through the first three innings. The sophomore righty left after walking the leadoff batter in the top of the fifth (Dirigo was home team), with Cougars leading 4-2.
Then the complexion of the game changed as the Dirigo relief core was unable to hold the fort. Several walks proved to be the Cougars waterloo, much to the ill-informed naysayers, sitting away from the action. Snowman was racked and needed help from Gavin Arsenault to get out of the fifth.
The Saints broke a 4-4 tie by scoring five runs in the sixth off Arsenault (5-1). Tyler Frost and Spencer Trenoweth also pitched for Dirigo. Saints' Zak Johnson earned the win in relief, blanking the Cougars over the final three innings.
It was the fourth straight year that the Saints and Cougars were the MVC's top teams. St. Doms won in 2010, but Dirigo rallied to win in 2011 at Hippach Field. Last year, Dirigo was the regular-season champion and rain cancelled the title game.
Interestingly, the two teams finished in a tie for first place in Heal Point standings with identical 14-2 records. Dirigo won the coin flip to determine the No. 1 seed for the Western Class C playoffs.