DIXFIELD – There’s a lot to be said about a positive attitude and it has been a key for the Dirigo baseball team who continued to play with plenty of inspiration in a Mountain Valley Conference game Friday afternoon.
The Dirigo Cougars are off to their best start in years behind the combination of good pitching and defense.
Junior Spencer Berry was the story Friday, pitching a three-hit shutout against previously unbeaten Monmouth Academy in a 3-0 triumph at sunny Harlow Park.
Sophomore Jon Smith utilized his speed to score the eventual winning run in the third inning.
Dirigo (3-0) also received a shot in the arm from second baseman Josh Daley, who made three solid fielding plays. The second baseman made a driving stop and threw to Chris Richards to retire Nate Armstrong for the final out of the game.
“It feels really good to pitch and know that I can depend on my defense,” Berry said. “Josh Daley deserves a lot of credit. He made three great plays. This team is starting to click and it’s a great feeling.”
Monmouth (2-1) lost despite a strong pitching performance by Scott Ogden, who allowed four hits.
With one out in the third, Smith hit the ball past the shortstop for a base hit and advanced on Berry’ infield out. After moving to third on a passed ball, he scored when a high pitch sailed to the backstop.
“It was a well-pitched game by both guys,” Dirigo coach Donnie Hebert said. “We made some plays defensively, but I can’t point to any time when the kids failed to execute properly. Ogden was throwing a fast ball for a first strike, so we told our batters to look for the first pitch. The team is playing relaxed and enjoying themselves”
Berry retired 12 of the first 13 batters, with only Devin Robbins getting on base with a single in the third inning. The right hander threw 74 pitches, had eight strikeouts and one walk.
In the fifth, Daley dove to his right to snare a ball and started a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
“I felt pretty good on the mound,” said Berry, who improved to 2-0. “My curve ball was working well, and I was throwing strikes.”
The lone repeat hitter was Cougars catcher Gary Holman, who doubled. Freshman James Moulton also singled.
Holman had an RBI single and scored when Monmouth threw the ball away.
Erik Murphy scored for the Mustangs on a Rick Pelletier hit in the seventh.