WINTHROP – Having been no-hit by Winthrop’s Kyle Plossay during the regular season, fourth-seeded Dirigo wanted to make the southpaw work for his outs in Saturday’s Western Class C semifinal.

The strategy almost paid off, but almost doesn’t count at tournament time.

Plossay had to earn all 21 outs, throwing 125 pitches and surviving a furious seventh-inning rally by Dirigo as Winthrop held on for a 5-4 victory.

The top-seeded Ramblers (14-2), searching for their first regional title, will meet No. 2 St. Dom’s (17-1), the three-time defending Western C champions, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at St. Joseph’s College.

“(Plossay) threw a lot of pitches. We thought about taking him out in the middle of the seventh there, but geez, he’d been so effective up until then,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said. “We just had to stay with him. They hit the ball hard in that last inning, but we escaped.”

“Someone told me I threw 125 pitches and I thought it was more like 85, 90. My arm felt good,” Plossay said. “I got a little shaky at the end. I walked a couple of guys. All the catcher wanted to do was just throw them straight so they’d put them in play. (Dirigo) got on them a little bit, but we managed to get on top of it.”

Three big insurance runs in the sixth off Dirigo starter Spencer Berry (six innings, six hits, two strikeouts, six walks) gave Winthrop a 5-1 cushion heading into the seventh. Plossay (six hits, two strikeouts, four walks) had enjoyed just one 1-2-3 inning, but a lot of the Cougars’ baserunners didn’t come until there were already two outs.

James Moulton drew a one-out walk in the seventh to give Dirigo (12-6) hope. A force play at second recorded the second out. John Smith then walked and Derek Daley ripped a two-run double to right to make it 5-3. Levi Hutchins blasted a drive to left, just to the right of, and beyond, a grass embankment that would have been a home run if the ball had touched down there. Daley scored to make it a one-run game.

“I thought that last one was out. If it hits the bank, tie game,” Fortin said.

Hutchins (two hits) had to settle for a triple and was stranded at third as Plossay got Berry to ground out to short to end it.

“(Plossay) is a good pitcher. We just waited for the last inning to hit the ball,” Dirigo coach Don Hebert said. “Spencer pitched a great game. A couple of miscues just cost us a couple of runs.”

Berry got himself into trouble first, walking the bases loaded in the second. Brandon Dupuis (two hits) drove in Plossay for the game’s first run, but the Ramblers’ hopes for a big inning were dashed when Bryan Lawson took too big of a turn at second and was thrown out.

Daley (two hits) evened the game in the third with an RBI double. Winthrop took the lead for good when speedster Rusty Schmelzer led off the fifth with a double to left, moved up to third on Tyler Cobb’s bunt and scored on David Ricker’s grounder to short, beating Smith’s throw home with a head first slide on a bang-bang play.

“I was surprised that the shortstop made it that close. I thought he was going to be in, easy,” Fortin said.

Dirigo’s only error on the day led to what turned out to be the winning run in the sixth. Forrest Dwyer started it off with a walk, moved to second on a bunt, then scored on a double by Jordan Conant (two hits). Jake Steele laced a line drive to right and came all the way around to score the fifth run when the throw home to try to nail Conant sailed high past the catcher.

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