AUBURN – Practice makes perfect. Whether in March or during playoff time in June, if you’re prepared, most likely you’ll succeed.

Putting the ball in play with a bunt down each baseline was something the St. Dom’s baseball team practiced everyday. Saturday, all that practicing paid off.

Joe Bonneau laid down a bunt to move up the runners in the seventh inning. Livermore Falls pitcher Willie Brown fielded the ball, but overthrew the first baseman to allow the tying and winning runs to score as St. Dom’s slipped past the Andies for an 8-7 victory in Westen Class C semifinals.

St. Dom’s returns to the regional finals for the fifth consecutive year and will face Winthrop on Wednesday.

Trailing 7-6, senior Andy Allen was hit to lead off the seventh. Greg Labonte followed with a walk to bring up Bonneau, who had entered the game earlier when teammate Richard Paradis re-injured his hamstring diving for a ball. After attempting a bunt on the first pitch, Bonneau got the next one down.

“We’ve been practicing all year getting the ball down each baseline. Coach called for the bunt down to third and I did,” Bonneau said.

“We knew if St. Dom’s was going to get it done, they were going to do it with small ball,” Livermore Falls coach Brian Dube said. “We worked on those type of situations, we knew what to expect.”

The seventh inning wasn’t the only inning the Saints (17-1) displayed their small-ball style of play. In the second, after a failed suicide squeeze, Willie Emerson forced a balk from the Andies starter to score the second run of the inning. Moments later, Shane Curtis laid down a bunt. The resulting error allowed the third run of the inning to score.

“Not scoring the runner from third in the first inning made it all that more important on getting the runners in during the second inning,” said Saints coach Bob Blackman.

Livermore (10-6) cut the deficit to one in the third when Kevin Gats raced around the bases after hitting a rocket past the outstreched Paradis for a two-run home run. In the fourth, the Andies sent 10 men to the plate to take a 6-3 lead. Highlighting the inning was Shawn Whiting’s bloop single over the drawn-in infield with the bases-loaded, and Kyle Stebbins ripped a two-run double.

Whiting also added an RBI double in the fifth. Stebbins also added a single and finished with two RBIs.

Brown went the distance for the Andies. The freshman scattered seven hits while striking out three in the loss.

St. Dom’s would later add a pair of runs in the fourth on Jacob Rutt’s triple and an RBI double by Curtis.

Rutt came on in relief to pitch the last 3 and 2-3 innings for the win.


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