DIXFIELD – The Dirigo baseball team stayed together and made clutch plays when the heat was on in a Class C preliminary game.

Pinch runner Tyler Gates scored the eventual winning run in the fourth inning and then survived a scare in a hard fought 6-2 triumph against Sacopee Valley at windy Harlow Park on Wednesday.

Aaron Fenstermacher (5-1) pitched five innings to earn the win, but 13th-ranked Sacopee Valley certainly made the Cougars sweat in the late innings. Dirigo used Spencer Berry and Jon Smith in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.

No. 4 Dirigo will host a quarterfinal game with No. 12 Hall Dale at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Cougars beat the Bulldogs 15-0 in April.

“They definitely didn’t play like a lower seed,” Berry said. “They gave us a battle. Aaron Fenstermacher pitched a strong game, and now both Jon and I will still be able to pitch against Hall Dale.”

The game was started over after being rained out Tuesday, and it actually benefited the Cougars because freshman Ryan LaFleur pitched and the Hawks used ace Dustin Stanton. Neither pitcher was available Wednesday because of MPA rules.

“The wind actually hurt us today,” Dirigo coach Donnie Hebert said. “We hit a couple shots that died on us. Still, we were (aggressive) on the bases and moved runners along. The defense helped bail us out when Josh Daley and Jon Smith turned a double play.”

On Wednesday, the teams were scoreless through three innings as Fenstermacher and Sacopee Valley pitcher Rusty Day kept the batters in check. The Hawks drew first blood on an RBI-sacrifice fly by Tyler Chartier in the fourth.

Dirigo answered back in the bottom of the fourth inning as the bottom of its batting order came through. Fenstermacher (two hits) singled with one out and Ryan LaFleur walked. Both runners advanced on wild pitches, and James ‘Whitey’ Moulton executed an RBI-suicide bunt. Dekota Holmquist singled in a run and Gates raced home on Smith ground out.

“Once we fell behind it woke us up,”Berry said. ”Every body had to realize that we could be beaten and after having lost two games last season, forced us to change our attitudes this season.”

Sacopee Valley responded with a run in the fifth and had the bases loaded, but Fenstermacher struck out Chartier on a 3-2 count. The Hawks also threatened in the sixth with two base runners, but Berry threw out the lead runner on a bunt and eventually retired the side.

The Cougars added some insurance with three runs in the sixth. Derek Daley and Levi Hutchins each scored on Berry’s bloop single. Fenstermacher also had an RBI.

“The kids did what they had to do to win,” Hebert said. “Aaron wasn’t as sharp as he can be. He fell behind a lot in the count, and you cant afford to do that against left-handed batters in this park.”

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