SOUTH PARIS – Cony baseball coach Dennis Dacus stresses to his player to make the easy plays in the field. On Tuesday, they made the spectacular ones.

The No. 9 Rams received a solid pitching effort from Ryan Cotnoir and some stellar infield defense to knock off the eighth-seeded Oxford Hills Vikings 4-2 in an Eastern A baseball prelim at Gouin Complex.

The Rams scored four runs in the third, and somehow survived a late Oxford Hills rally for the right to advance and play top-seeded Bangor.

Cotnoir (2-1) held the defending state champions hitless until the sixth inning with a helping hand from his infielders. Third baseman Steve Rodrique made a diving, backhand stop of a Dan Millett hard grounder down the line in the second inning. In the fifth, second baseman Tommy Poulin robbed Ben Ryerson of a hit up the middle with a backhand stab of another hard shot.

Perhaps the play of the day came in the bottom of the sixth after the Vikings (9-8) had already plated two runs in the inning on an infield grounder by Ryan Yates and a line single to center by Millett. With one out and runners on first and second, Mike Foley rapped a grounder to short for a possible double play. When the throw arrived late and in the dirt at first, pinch runner Dillon Trundy attempted to score, but first baseman Jared Berube pegged him out at the plate.

“That’s been our savior,” said Dacus whose team began the season by dropping its first six games. “We’ve made every simple play and we make some hard ones.”

“With the way they were playing defense and the way (Cotnoir) was pitching, we had to take our chances that inning,” said Oxford Hills coach Shane Slicer.

The defending champions didn’t go quietly as they had two runners on with the winning run at the plate in the seventh, but Cotnoir blew a 3-2 fastball by Chris Jennings to end the game.

The Rams (8-9) knocked Ryerson (3-2) out of the game in the third. Three walks, three singles and a pair of Viking miscues led to the four runs. Tommy Daniels drove home a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single to right and Rodrique followed with a bloop single to short center to bring home another.

“We didn’t help (ourselves), said Slicer. “We led off the inning by walking the number nine hitter and a ball to center probably should have been caught.”

Ryan Yates came in and shut down the Cony bats. He yielded just two hits over the final four and one-third innings.

“That’s the type of team we are,” said Dacus, “four runs in one inning and nothing the rest of the game.”

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