STANDISH – The St. Dom’s coaching staff called all around the Mountain Valley Conference looking for a scouting report on top-seeded Winthrop for Wednesday night’s Western Class C final. No one returned their calls.

It didn’t matter. The Saints just needed to know if Winthrop starter Forrest Dwyer had changed much since they faced him in last year’s regional semifinal, which he hadn’t, and whether they could put enough pressure on Winthrop’s defense, which they could. Once they found those things out early, their fourth-straight regional title was just a matter of execution.

Second-seeded St. Dom’s jumped out to a quick lead in the first and kept the pressure on from there en route to a 6-1 win at Larry Mahaney Diamond on the campus of St. Joseph’s College. The Saints will meet the winner of the Eastern Maine final between Searsport and George Stevens Academy for the state title at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Masfield Stadium in Bangor.

“It’s a great feeling – four in a row,” said senior Andy Allen, who got the win on the mound with five strong innings. “We can’t ask for much more.”

“Our coaches got us really well prepared for this game,” said senior shortstop Peter Lewis, who like Allen has been on all four championship teams. “We did exactly what we went out to do.”

And they did it early. Allen’s suicide squeeze with one out in the first put the Saints (18-1) on the board. Jake Rutt’s ground out to first plated Greg Labonte with the second run.

“Even though they know it’s coming, if you execute, it puts constant pressure on them,” Saints coach Bob Blackman said. “Unless you practice it continually like we do, and we practice it both defensively and offensively, you’re not used to it.”

St. Dom’s added single markers in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh. Lewis scored the run in the third. With the third baseman drawn in to protect against the bunt, Lewis broke for third. The throw to the shortstop covering went into left field, sending Lewis home. In the fourth, Shayne Curtis walked with one out, moved to third on Aaron Allen’s hit-and-run single, then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.

Winthrop’s efforts to match the small-ball style backfired. Rusty Schmelzer led off Winthrop’s half of the first with a walk, then was gunned down trying to steal second by Joey Gwozdz. The Ramblers drew three straight walks to start the third but had a runner hesitate between second and third on a ball in the dirt and get thrown out at third. Then Brandon Dupuis tagged up from third and Schmelzer from second on Tyler Cobb’s fly ball to center. Lewis’ relay throw to third beat Schmelzer for the third out before Dupuis crossed home plate, negating the Ramblers’ first run.

“We had no luck. The only luck we had was bad,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said. “We had a couple of baserunner snafus. It just wasn’t a good night.”

“We wanted to keep guys close (on the bases), like we knew (Schmelzer) was quick,” Allen said. “We knew they were going to be similar to us.”

Winthrop (14-3) finally got on the board on Bryon Lawson’s RBI single in the fourth, but Allen (three hits, one run, two Ks, five walks) kept the middle of the Rambler order from doing any damage and enjoyed some solid defense behind him.

“There were a couple of innings where we were close to taking him out, but our defense made the plays,” Blackman said. “We’ve really tried to enforce to him this year to pitch to contact, let the defense make the plays behind you.”

The Saints scored their last two runs off reliever Jake Steele. Casey Parker’s RBI single provided extra cushion for Rutt, who came on in relief of Allen in the sixth. Curtis added an RBI single in the seventh to cap the scoring.

Some people figured the Saints’ run might end this year with the loss of star pitcher Brady Blackman to graduation. But the experience of last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, made them confident that they would have a more complete team before the 2007 season was done.

“We had a lot of kids coming back, a lot of starters,” Lewis said. “This year was definitely more of a team effort. We didn’t have one person carrying us. Everybody contributes on this team.”


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