AUBURN — When Jimmy Theriault left the pitcher’s mound Saturday, he thought his day was done. His pitching combined with St. Dom’s hitting staked the team to a comfortable lead, and a win for the Saints appeared only a few outs away.

One inning later, he was back on the mound trying to fend off Dirigo and secure a victory. Though the Saints were up by 11 when he initially stepped off the rubber and nearly mercied the Cougars, Dirigo battled back to within two before St. Dom’s salvaged an 11-9 victory.

“We’ll take this one,” Theriault said. “It’s a good win. We don’t care if it was by 10 runs or two. The score really wasn’t indicative of the way the game was.”

St. Dom’s failed to mercy Dirigo in the fifth — the Cougars scored two to make it 11-2. Then St. Dom’s stranded three runners in each of the next two innings. Meanwhile, Dirigo kept picking away.

“At 11-2, I would have contemplated a Sunday practice regardless of what anybody said,” Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer said. “Eleven-nine, to come back like that, I can actually swallow this one.”

Dirigo got six runs in the sixth to get within 11-8. Nick Young walked in a run and T.J. Frost had an RBI single. Then Hunter Ross’ double and a St. Dom’s error plated three runs. Ross also scored, he on a wild pitch.

“Hunter Ross is definitely the leader of this team,” Palmer said. “He kept everybody in this game and kept everybody up. He had a couple of hits that really sparked us.”

Theriault left the mound in the fifth after a hit batter and an error to start the inning. Mitch Lorenz came on in relief, but he was replaced by Theriault in the sixth with one out after Ross’s hit.

“I just wanted to get the two outs that we needed,” said Theriault. “Then we could get back in and get the offense going. I was just trying to stop the bleeding.”

He summoned up a ground out and caught a liner back to him to end the inning. Though Dirigo (3-1) got one more in the seventh on a Brett Whittemore RBI single, Theriault was able to finish the game off.

“Jimmy was very gutsy to come back in,” St. Dom’s coach Bob Blackman said. “His pitch count was not very high. Pitch count had nothing to do with taking him out the first time. We thought we had enough runs. We gave Mitch the opportunity to hold it and it didn’t work out. We went back to Jimmy and he did what he needed to do.”

Lorenz finished with two hits and four RBI on offense for the Saints (3-0), while Theriault drove in a pair with two hits. Dirigo got two hits from Ross and two RBI. Robbie Babb also had two hits.

“In the end it was still a game,” Blackman said. “It made us dig deep and really focus.”

Tyler Frost pitched the final two-plus innings for Dirigo in relief and held the Saints hitless and scoreless, despite five walks and a hit batter.

St. Dom’s jumped on Dirigo pitching from the start and scored five in the first.  Mike Richard drove in the first run on a fielder’s choice. Lorenz then singled in a pair and Mike Bryant singled in two.

“We did what we wanted to do,” said Blackman, whose team ran the bases well and stole nearly 20 bases. “We came out with a lot of focus from the beginning of the game. We put the ball in play and good things happened.”

The Saints padded the lead in the second with four more. Theriault singled in a run. Will Desmarais scored on a wild pitch. Then Lorenz singled in two more for the 9-0 lead.

“We were in Turner on the bus and I turned around and a few of our players were sleeping,” said Palmer. “We’re playing St. Dom’s. I didn’t thinking sleeping was the way to go. So I didn’t have a great feeling getting off the bus. Our infield and outfield was suspect before the game.”

The Saints made it 11-0 with two more in the third. Desmarais and Theriault each singled in runs.

St. Dom’s had the chance finish the game in the fifth via the 10-run rule, but Ross singled in a run and a Tyler Frost RBI ground-out prevented the game’s end. The Saints had a chance in the bottom of the inning but left the bases loaded.

“It was a little demoralizing,” said Theriault. “Props to Dirigo for coming back after being down. Coach does a good job keeping us together and keeping our heads in the game.”

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