LIVERMORE FALLS — Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer has never been comfortable at Livermore Falls’ Griffin Field, going back to his days as a player at Mountain Valley.
“Crazy stuff always happens here,” Palmer said following Wednesday’s MVC tilt with the Andies.
Dirigo withstood the craziness with an explosive offense, fine relief work by Cody St. Germain and the better defense in an 11-6 victory to remain perfect on the season.
Caleb Turner and Ben Holmes rapped three hits apiece and Justin Conant added a pair of hits, including a two-run homer, to lead the Cougars’ 13-hit barrage.
“We’ve always had a really good winning pedigree, so we know how to play in big games,” Conant said. “We’ve got a lot of experience on this team.”
The experience might have helped the Cougars (8-0) withstand an early challenge from the Andies (4-6).
Dirigo jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first despite managing just one hit, Arik Fenstermacher’s RBI single, off starter Bryan Maurais. Four Andies errors led to three unearned runs.
Livermore Falls responded with four in the bottom of the frame off Dirigo starter Holmes. Maurais’ RBI single and a three-run homer by Hodges, his third straight game with a round-tripper, put the Andies in front and set Palmer on edge.
“We come up in the top of the first and score a few with the wind gusting in at a hundred miles an hour,” Palmer said, “and then Hodges comes up — I’m not taking anything away from him, he hit the ball well — but there was no wind at all, and I’m like, ‘What is going on here.’ Every time we come to Livermore, something happens.”
The Cougars sent nine men to the plate to take the lead for good in a five-run third. Another Livermore error helped keep the rally alive. Spencer Ross contributed a sacrifice fly and Turner an RBI single to make it 8-4.
“The problem today is our defense didn’t show up and give Bryan any defensive support,” said Andies coach Brian Dube, whose team made five errors on the day. “When you’re playing a good team, any errors at all are going to hurt you. You can’t win if you don’t make plays.”
Conant put the Cougars into double digits with his two-run blast to left in the fourth.
“It’s the first ball I’ve ever really pulled, and it was my first high school home run, so it was a great day for me,” Conant said.
St. Germain relieved Holmes in the fourth and got himself into immediate trouble by yielding a single and a walk to start the inning. Holmes single-handedly got him out of the inning with an unassisted out at third, then a terrific diving back-hand stop to his right on a sharp Alex Rose grounder near the line. Holmes landed right next to the bag, tagged it with the ball still in his glove, got up and fired to first to get Rose for the double play.
“I just dove and caught it underneath my chest and looked up and there it was. Then I got up and threw it,” Holmes said.
St. Germain worked a 1-2-3 fifth, rendered a pair of singles in the sixth harmless, then gave up two runs, one earned, in the seventh on RBI singles by Ben Keene and Evan Castonguay.
“He came in and threw strikes,” Palmer said. “He got his confidence back at Madison. He carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning there and threw very, very well and got his confidence back.”
Ross walked with the bases loaded to drive in Dirigo’s 11th run against Andies’ reliever Gavin Jones.
Keene had a pair of hits to lead the Andies.