AUBURN – Andy Allen remembers being a lowly freshman, picking up equipment around the St. Dom’s bench after every game.

And he remembers being a sophomore reserve who got the starting nod in left field for the biggest game of his life – the 2005 Class C state championship game. That day, he had two hits and made a great catch to preserve the Saints’ 2-1 win and their first state title ever.

“That seems like a long time ago,” said Allen, who is now one of the seniors trying to lead the Saints to their second championship. “The team’s changed a lot since then. Me and Pete (Lewis) and a couple of juniors are the only guys left from that team.”

Allen doesn’t have to pick up the equipment anymore, but he still carries his weight. He’s the Saints’ No. 1 starter, a title that for the last four years went to Brady Blackman.

Some expected that with Blackman’s graduation, the Saints would take a step back this year. But they’re headed to their fourth-straight Class C championship (2 p.m., today, Mansfield Stadium in Bangor) thanks in large part to Allen’s increasing aggressiveness on the mound.

The lanky lefty has started all three of their games in the postseason, picking up the win in two of them, including Wednesday’s win over Winthrop. Because he went five innings Wednesday, he won’t be eligible to pitch today against Searsport. But he’ll be at first base and in his customary clean-up spot in the order.

It wasn’t a given that Allen would be the Saints’ go-to guy come June. Coming off an impressive 5-0 junior campaign as their No. 2 starter, he was the No. 1 guy in the rotation going into the season. But circumstances conspired before and early in the season to get him off on the wrong foot.

“Andy got off to a slow start because of two things,” Saints coach Bob Blackman said. “We were inside a little longer than we wanted to be (due to bad weather), and he went to Mississippi with the rest of the senior class and was gone for 10 days (on a mission St. Dom’s seniors are annually required to complete).”

When he got back, the coaching staff eased Allen back into the rotation, throwing him three innings at a time. He didn’t go deep into a game until the 11th game of the season, when he picked up a complete game win against Traip.

“He worked real hard to regain his form,” assistant coach Allan Turgeon said. “His preseason was in the middle of our season.”

When the playoffs arrived, he still wasn’t at the top of his game. Blackman pointed out to Allen that he had given up only eight hits the whole regular season, but had also yielded 14 walks. He wanted him to attack hitters more.

“Pitch to contact, and you’re going to be fine,” Blackman told him.

Allen made some mechanical and mental corrections and started pitching to contact more once the playoffs started.

“I just had to work on getting my timing down, getting my front foot down with my arm coming forward. That’s always been my big problem, keeping my front side closed,” he said. “I just really concentrated on throwing strikes and getting guys to hit ground balls because I know our defense is fantastic.”

He relied on that defense to help him get out of some trouble against Winthrop on Wednesday night. The Saints cut down three Ramblers on the base paths and cleanly handled all seven of the ground balls he induced for outs.

Then Allen did what he’s always done, celebrated another championship.

“We worked hard to get where we are. We definitely don’t take it for granted,” he said. “There are a lot of people that go through our high school careers without even playing in one Western Maine championship and we’ve won four, so I feel pretty fortunate.”

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