BRUNSWICK — Baseball doesn’t let its participants take much for granted.

After Saturday’s pitchers’ duel between Mt. Blue and Brunswick, we can add one more thing to the long list — a ground ball that gets through the infield won’t necessarily result in a base hit.

Two 9-3 putouts proved to be the difference in excellent outings by Mt. Blue’s Colton Lawrence and Brunswick’s John Parker. The Dragons’ hard-throwing right-hander was the beneficiary of those unusual plays, which preserved his 1-0 shutout that essentially clinched a playoff berth for Brunswick and snapped the Cougars’ five-game winning streak.

“Coach (Luke Potter) likes those plays. (Right-fielder) Adam (Casey) is really good at it. He’s done it three times this year,” said Parker, who himself has recorded the assist on one 9-3 this season. “That gave us the boost.”

“We’ve had four of those this year. I think it’s Adam Casey’s favorite play,” said Potter, the former Lewiston and Bowdoin star in his first year as Brunswick’s varsity baseball coach. “It’s a good, active play.”

The first time the Dragons robbed the Cougars of a base hit was the biggest. With the game scoreless, Tye Nichols led off the third with a single, moved to second on Ryan Pratt’s bunt and to third on Lawrence’s ground out.

Cam Abbott followed with a sharp ground ball past the dive of second baseman Pearson Cost. Casey, already playing shallow, charged the ball and fired to first to get the hustling Abbott by a step.

“We hit ball right at them,” Mt. Blue coach Dave Pepin said. “Both teams had opportunities, though not many. Both played a defensive game. They played their field to their advantage.”

Brunswick had a couple of early scoring opportunities end in similarly frustrating fashion. It had runners at first and second with one out in the second when Lawrence caught a bunt attempt in the air and doubled-up the runner at first.

In the fourth, Charlie Lowell’s one-out double put Dragons at second and third. But Lawrence (6 IP, 4 H, 5 K, 4 BB) wiggled out of the jam with a strikeout and pickoff of the runner at third.

Brunswick finally broke through in the fifth. Nick Thibeault led off with a walk. Ryan Brescia bunted pinch runner Elias Henze to second, and Satchel Toole drove him in with a base hit to right.

Parker (7 IP, 4 H, 7 K, 1 BB) allowed a single in each of the first four innings, two to Anthony Franchetti. His two-out single in the fourth and an error put two Cougars on base in an inning for the first and only time all day.

Parker ended that threat with a strikeout, struck out the side in the fifth, and allowed just one base runner, on a walk, the rest of the way. The Dragons’ second 9-3 putout, which denied Andrew Pratt a base hit, made sure of that.

“It was a big performance for him,” Potter said. “This is the kind of game environment that he really wants to be in. And it’s rewarding for a coach, especially with young kids. You want to see them go out there and have an opportunity to go out there and win those big games.”

“It was fastballs mostly,” Parker said. “The curve ball is inconsistent right now, so just fastballs. They were hitting it, but the defense was there.”

The Dragons (8-6) have two games left in the regular season, next week against two of the top teams in the KVAC, Bangor and Oxford.

“This was a must-win for Brunswick,” Parker said. “We’re in (at least) the prelim now. We needed to beat that team. They’re a good team. There are no blowouts for us.”

The Cougars end their regular season at 8-8, and will wait for the results of those remaining Brunswick games, as well as several others, to see where they’ll end up in the playoff seedings.

“Games like this are nothing new to us. We’ve played 16 games in the regular season and 13 have been decided by three runs or less,” Pepin said. “We’ve won some and lost some. We’ve had a four-game losing streak and a five-game win streak. Sometimes losing the last game (before playoffs) is a good thing. It’s an attention-getter, make them work harder for the next 10 days getting ready for the playoffs.”


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