BANGOR – Peter Lewis apologized to teammate Greg LaBonte for taking the bat out of his hands by trying to steal home in the eighth inning of a tied Class C championship game.

“He told me that he owed me one,” LaBonte said. “I guess I just took it from him.”

LaBonte tripled in the winning run, in the person of Lewis, during a four-run 10th inning that propelled St. Dom’s to a 7-3 triumph over Searsport for its second state title in three years.

Lewis actually had little to apologize for when all was said and done. His big defensive play sparked the Saints (19-1) to overcome a 3-0 deficit with three in the sixth, and his 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief while battling cramps in his right leg allowed LaBonte’s late-inning heroics to happen.

“Every time I threw a fastball, I felt it,” Lewis said.

Lewis led off the 10th with a walk, stole second, moved to third on Casey Parker’s sacrifice, then watched LaBonte crank a Josh Nickerson fastball over the center fielder’s head.

“I was kind of nervous because he’d struck me out the last time. It was a 1-0 count and he just threw me a fastball right down the middle,” LaBonte said.

Rutt (3-for-4, two triples, double, 3 RBIs) clubbed a two-run triple for insurance, and Lewis, who had thrown only four innings all year, pitched his only 1-2-3 inning of the game to end it on a fly out to Aaron Allen in left.

Searsport (15-5) took the lead with single runs in the first, second and fourth, but could have come away with more runs in each frame. Rutt (5 2/3 innings, six hits, three Ks, four walks) limited the damage with some defensive help from Will Emerson at third, who stopped a couple of smashes to the hot corner and started a 5-4-3 double play to get the Saints out of a two-on, one-out situation in the third.

“What got me out of those innings was I threw my off-speed for strikes,” Rutt said. “Some good defensive plays helped me out.”

“We had plenty of opportunities. We had chances to put the game away, but we didn’t succeed,” Searsport starter Casey Ashey said.

It looked for a while that three runs would be enough for Ashey, who pounded the outside corner for strikes. The Vikings didn’t give up a run in the Eastern Maine tournament, and the Saints were lulling themselves asleep waiting for Ashey to come inside and needed something to spark their aggressiveness. Lewis’ great play did the trick.

With two out in the fifth, Nate Adams hit a rocket to left, past a diving Allen. He got up and tracked the ball down at the fence, threw to Lewis, then playing shortstop, in short left. With Adams about halfway between third and home, Lewis turned and fired a perfect strike to catcher Joey Gwozdz at the plate to nail the runner.

“Aaron hit me on the relay on one hop good, and I just had to let it fly,” Lewis said. “It’s a do-or-die play.”

The play pumped new life into the Saints, but coach Bob Blackman thought it would take something else to tilt momentum totally to their side.

“I needed one run,” Blackman said. “Once we got that one run, I really felt that a lot of things were going to happen.”

Allen provided that run with one out in the sixth after Parker led off with a double. Rutt followed with an RBI triple and Will Emerson hit a sacrifice fly to tie it.

The Saints had won their last two games in the tournament on small ball tactics – squeezes, sacrifices and basestealing. But in the sixth and 10th, they had four extra-base hits and just one bunt.

“Everyone talks about small-ball,” said Lewis, “but we hit big today.”


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