DIXFIELD — The Telstar Rebels have come to expect a lot from themselves, and those high expecations allowed them to shake off Dirigo in baseball game on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Mountain Valley Conference.
A fast start almost disappeared before Tyler Brown scored the eventual winning run with two outs in the sixth inning, and Kyle Peterson earned an important save as the Rebels held on for a 6-5 triumph against previously unbeaten Dirigo at Harlow Park.
It proved to be a quick turnaround after both teams had played the previous night and the juniors took their SAT tests Saturday morning. But the Rebels (1-1) seemed ready to pounce on the Cougars from the onset.
Brown led off the sixth with a double, and with one out, Dan Vaughn reached safely when a third strike eluded the catcher. Ben Field laced a shot over the second-base bag off reliever Ben Holmes and the Cougar shortstop tried corralling the ball, but Brown scored easily.
Telstar starting pitcher Dan Whitney pitched five-plus innings of six-hit ball and received plenty of help offensively from teammates. Whitney was staked to a 5-0 lead before Dirigo finally scored three runs in the fifth.
“I just needed to stay strong in the latter innings,”Whitney said. “I was able to throw strikes and let the fielders made the plays. Our defense was the key, today.”
Dirigo (2-1) refused to go away and scored two runs each in the fourth and seventh. Pinch runner T.J. Frost scored on a wild pitch and Cliff Turner hit a two-RBI single.
In the seventh, Ryan Lafleur drew a walk and first baseman David Guildford laced an RBI-double. Peterson relieved and Bolduc grounded out before Arik Fenstermacher hit an RBI-sacrifice fly. Caleb Turner popped out to end the game.
“In the past, I had made the mistake of leaving starting pitchers in to long,” Telstar coach Bob Remington said. “If these guys want to win the close games, we have to make changes and we had the relief pitchers Tyler Brown and Kyle ready to go. Also, our defense made the plays beginning with Mike Fitzmorris running down a foul ball that was going away in left field.”
Dirigo had to have felt snake bitten because it hit the ball sharply.
“We came back and made things interesting,’’ Dirigo coach Dave Lafleur said. “We made good contact and had eight hits. At times, we have struggled against some left handed pitchers.”
The Cougars stranded two base runners in the fifth and sixth innings. Fenstermacher hit a sharp ground ball and Tyler Chiasson’s line drive was caught by Casey Thornton.
“The defense has been incredible,” Remington said. “We’ve made one error in two games. It has been quite a while since anyone can say that about a Telstar team. It is also a lot more fun to play with a lead, unlike (Friday night) loss to Livermore Falls.”
Bolduc started and was unable to locate his pitches as Telstar scored four runs in the first inning. T.J. O’Connor drew a bases-loaded walk and Peterson scored on an infield error. Vaughn had an RBI-sacrifice fly and Field added an RBI single.
“Eric Bolduc struggled in the early going,” Lafleur said. “We certainly didn’t help him by throwing the ball around. But he settled down and threw well (seven strike outs) until leaving after 112 pitches. That’s the first run Ben Holmes has allowed in 19 innings, including preseason. Still, Telstar deserves a lot of credit for scoring runs and making the plays.”