BANGOR – It was supposedly a rebuilding year at St. Dom’s after winning three straight Western C crowns. With three seniors on the roster and an undefined pitching staff, the Saints were supposed to be vulnerable.

“From Day One, we knew people weren’t giving us a shot, that they were saying it’s a rebuilding year for St. Dom’s,” senior captain Andy Allen said.

“Everyone didn’t think it was our year, so it made us work harder,” fellow senior captain Peter Lewis said.

The coaches knew they would have Allen holding down the No. 1 spot in the rotation, but there were only question marks after that.

“We knew our weakness was whether we had enough pitchers to get us through the odd games where Andy couldn’t pitch. We weren’t sure,” Saints coach Bob Blackman said. “We had to basically put games together for our pitchers.”

The players were confident the pitching would eventually fall into place, so if they could fill in the other gaps offensively and defensively, this wouldn’t have to be a rebuilding year. But they also knew that with the weather-related late start to the preseason schedule, they’d need as much seasoning as possible. They asked for extra practice time with Blackman and assistants Allan Turgeon and Tim Darnell.

“They knew that we hadn’t had the opportunity to practice as much as we’d typically like to,” Blackman said. “I mean, what the heck, we’ve just got jobs.”

Allen’s season got off to a late start, due to some missionary work in Mississippi, so the Saints had to pitch by committee for the first couple of weeks. That would prove invaluable later. Meanwhile, the offense, with five freshmen and sophomores seeing regular time, had to pick up some of the slack.

“Offensively, this team did more than I ever expected,” Blackman said. “I never expected (freshman) Shayne Curtis to come through and handle the bat the way he did, (freshman) Jake Rutt to be a force like he was offensively. When those things happened – we knew we were going to be solid defensively – it was just a matter of making everybody believe.”

The Saints won their first five games with a combination of small ball and slug ball. Then, they were handed an 11-0 defeat by eventual Western Maine Conference Class B champ Poland. They used the loss as a yard stick.

Then, they reached what Blackman says was the turning point.

“It was the week after the Poland game. We had, like, four games in five days or five games in seven days, and we had to use all the pitchers, and we all of a sudden started to beat teams 10-2, 12-2,” Blackman said.

The Saints never lost again and picked up the second seed in the tournament. Allen and Rutt shut out Old Orchard Beach in the quarterfinals. They rallied to beat Livermore Falls on a Joe Bonneau bunt. They lost left fielder Richard Paradis to a hamstring injury, but they still knocked off top-seeded Winthrop in the regional final behind Allen’s pitching, the defense and some unorthodox offense, such as a suicide squeeze by Allen, the cleanup hitter, with two strikes.

The small-ball label followed the Saints to Bangor for the state title game against Searsport, the team that ended their dream of back-to-back championships in 2006. But, they rode two big innings offensively, some clutch defense and gutsy pitching from Rutt and Lewis to a come-from-behind 7-3 victory in 10 innings for their second title in three years.

“This one feels extra sweet because it was the last game,” said Allen, who played in the Saints’ last triumph at Mansfield Stadium.

Allen is one of three seniors, along with Lewis and Joe Bonneau, who won’t get another shot at repeating. Fourteen other underclassmen, including six who started Saturday, should be back, which isn’t good news for the rest of Class C.


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