DIXFIELD — Dirigo came alive early and survived a challenge from Livermore Falls as the Cougars continued to roll through the Mountain Valley Conference.
Senior Justin Conant hit a two-run double and Spencer Ross banged out two singles to highlight a seven-run first inning as the Cougars remained unbeaten with a 9-3 triumph over the Andies at Harlow Park on Wednesday.
Southpaw Arik Fenstermacher, who at times struggled with location, also remained unbeaten with a complete game effort. He struck out five and walked one.
Dirigo (13-0), ranked No.1 in Western Class C, started strong, pounding out seven hits and sending 12 batters to the plate against Andies’ starter Hunter Brett in the first inning.
”We certainly started fast,” Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer said. “But, we’ve been doing that all year long and then our (bats) go silent. I keep telling the team that we can’t afford to be doing that in the playoffs or we’ll be going home.”
Ross had a leadoff single, Caleb Turner walked and Fenstermacher had an RBI single. Ben Holmes walked and Conant hit the ball in the gap. Holmes scampered home on a wild pitch and T.J. Frost and Ross each had RBI singles.
“Yes, the fast start helped,” Conant said. “We slowed down, but we got to work on some things and we need to hot going in to the playoffs.”
Livermore Falls (6-8) was held in check until getting runners on base and scoring two runs in the fourth. Ben Keene singled and Brian Maurais reached safely when his bunted ball resulted in a late attempted force play. Brandon Hodges hit an RBI single and Maurais scored when Gavin Jones batted the ball back through the box and it wasn’t fielded cleanly. Jimmy Seitz fought out eight pitches before reaching on a fielders’ choice, but with the bases loaded Fenstermacher threw out Alex Rose.
“We dug ourselves a hole early,” Livermore Falls coach Brian Dube said. “Dirigo had the bats going, but (Evan) Castonguay came in and gave us great relief and that’s all you can ask for. We just didn’t execute well in a couple situations.”
Castonguay started the second and kept the Dirigo batters out of sorts for three innings. Frost walked and scored on Turner’s double, while Holmes added an opposite-field RBI single.
“That was big,” Dube said. “They really needed those runs. Now we end up with Jay on Thursday and Friday.”
Keene hit a solo home run in the seventh.
Dirigo made mistakes on the base paths that cost potential runs, but shined defensively when Conant caught a pop-up in front of home plate and threw to first baseman Cody St. Germain for a double play Livermore Falls tried using small-ball tactics.
“Livermore Falls did force us to use our defenses in situations that we haven’t seen all season,” Palmer said. “We didn’t look good at times, but on the positive side we are 13-0.”