DIXFIELD — Dirigo senior pitcher Kaine Hutchins and coach Ryan Palmer might be on to something after Hutchins’ three-hit shutout of Mountain Valley on Thursday afternoon.

The first of two weather-related delays wiped out both teams’ infield practice and all Hutchins’ pre-game throws at Harlow Park.

He only needed 17 pitches to get through two innings prior to another 55-minute interruption, this one for thunder in the area. Hutchins finished with seven strikeouts and only two walks in a 4-0 MVC victory.

“That might be something to look forward to in the future,” Palmer quipped. “Maybe he won’t warm up from now on.”

Well, let’s not rush to judgment.

“I don’t like it,” Hutchins said. “My first warm-up pitch on the mound, my shoulder and my elbow cracked.”

Hutchins pitched Dirigo to its 14th consecutive victory. Nine of those wins are via shutout.

Dirigo (14-1) didn’t make an error, and its offense, though frustrated, did more than enough to back up its ace.

Mitch Kubesh belted a two-out double in the second. The next inning, Cooper Chiasson’s low line drive to center field turned into an RBI triple after Josh Mason’s game attempt at a diving catch.

Nick Hall’s squeeze bunt turned into a single and plated Hutchins after a leadoff double in the fifth.

“As of late we’ve been doing that. We’ve hit the ball hard. Our timely hitting has been there,” Palmer said. “This is the third game in a row where the squeeze play worked. We’re finding ways to score runs, and with the pitching and defense that we’ve had, we don’t need to score a lot of runs.”

Logan Wilhoite had two of the hits for Mountain Valley (7-8).

The Falcons’ biggest threat immediately followed the delay, when Wilhoite singled to left and Tucker Rowland doubled to right with one out in the third.

Hutchins coaxed John Pepin into a pop-up to Kubesh at shortstop and got Mason to bounce out to Nick St. Germain at first.

“I thought our team played very well,” Mountain Valley coach Steve LaPointe said. “Defensively we were sharp. Pitching was solid today. Kaine’s a great pitcher, but we put the ball in play. I was really pleased with our effort.”

Hall and Chiasson singled and St. Germain walked to load the bases for Kubesh in the second.

“I’ve been having trouble hitting the past couple years,” Kubesh, who is now batting leadoff for the Cougars, said. “Coach and I have been working on it a lot.”

The run in the third also came with two outs against Ian Austin, who relieved Nick Newman after the break. Hall walked in front of Chiasson’s knock, which rolled another 50 feet into the power alley after it fell to the turf.

Gavin Arsenault also had a double for Dirigo. Wyatt Haddox threw a 1-2-3 sixth for the Falcons, who scattered eight hits.

“It was a big game. Regardless of what records are, Mountain Valley is always circled in our calendar,” Palmer said. “It’s fun. I graduated from there. I played there. I coached there. It’s a fun school to play and a bunch of good guys.”

Mountain Valley didn’t advance a runner past first base after the third-inning bid.

“I’ve been a lot more efficient this year. My pitch counts have been in the 70s and 80s, and that’s really attributed to my defense,” Hutchins said. “I’m doing my job creating hits that are playable for the defense, and the defense is just doing a stellar job making the plays.”

Hutchins applied the exclamation point with strikeouts of Tim Fitzgerald and Willhoite to end it.

Dirigo beat Mountain Valley in their previous meeting, 8-5. The Falcons hope to hang onto the 12th and final playoff berth in Class C West and end a drought that dates back to 2009.

“I just want to get in. The last time I got in was with Justin Staires and Matt Laubauskas,” LaPointe said.

Eight Dirigo seniors — Kubesh, Hutchins, St. Germain, Hall, Tyler Frost, Anthony Todd, Cody Dolloff and Joe Casey — were honored during the rain delay at their final regular-season home game. The Cougars aim for their third Class C title in four years.

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