The Falcons (0-2) loaded the bases in the first inning and the seventh inning, but were held scoreless in both frames. The first three batters of the game reached, on an error and a pair of walks issued by Cougars (1-1) starter Cooper Chiasson. The sophomore right-hander got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts, then catcher Bryce Whittemore recorded the third out by gobbling up a bouncer in front of the plate and stepping on home ahead of Mountain Valley’s Jacob Blanchard.

Falcons coach Steve LaPointe said he doesn’t want his players dwelling on previous innings, but even he had some regrets about how the top of the first played out.

“I told them we’re going to be squeezing a lot, and I probably should have squeezed twice right then and there,” LaPointe said. “I didn’t. It did hurt.”

Mountain Valley starter Jacob Beauchesne had a similar shaky start to Chiasson, but wasn’t able to avoid giving up a run like his counterpart. Gavin Arsenault led off the bottom of the first by reaching on an error, then Beauchesne walked two of the next three batters. Whittemore drove in the game’s first run with an RBI groundout.

The Falcons wasted two more Chiasson walks in the second, but got to the starter in the third. John Pepin led off by reaching on an error, then moved around the bases on another walk issued by Chiasson and a fielder’s choice. Pepin made it home, but not before a Riley Robinson throw from in front of second beat him to Whittemore at the plate on a double steal.

Mountain Valley then did get a run across on Garrett Garbarini’s RBI single up the middle, scoring Nick Newman. Two more walks knocked out Chiasson, and JT Greene welcomed reliever Luke Lueders by reaching on an error, which scored Garbarini and gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead.

“We’re a team right now that can’t afford to make those little mistakes,” Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer said, alluding to the two errors in the third.

The Cougars one-upped their rivals with a three-run bottom of the third. Arsenault and Gus Brown led off with Dirigo’s first two hits of the game — both singles. An errant throw on Brown’s infield single compounded the damage by moving both runners into scoring position.

They both found home. Arsenault came in on Chiasson’s sacrifice fly (which assured he couldn’t be saddled with a loss on the mound), and Brown later followed on a wild pitch, then a steal of home with Lueders batting.

“They’re so aggressive on the bases,” LaPointe said of Dirigo. “That hurt us.”

Whittemore scored the third run of the frame by drawing a two-out walk on a full count, then moved to third on a failed pick-off attempt by Beauchesne. Cameron Turner brought him in with an infield single that Beauchesne knocked down but couldn’t corral.

Turner drove in two more runs in the fifth with a single against Cameron Godbois to make it 6-2.

That lead was far from safe for the Cougars, and Palmer — a former Mountain Valley player — knew it.

“They almost came back,” Palmer said. “We thought we had a cushion with a four-run lead. But that’s what Falcons do. I’m a Falcon alum, and they battle ’til the end.”

Lueders pitched a 1-2-3 fourth and a relatively quiet fifth, but the Falcons made quite a racket in the sixth. The first six batters reached in the frame, starting with a single by Greene and ending with conseuctive RBI base hits from Tim Fitzgerald and Newman.

“I thought middle to the end of the game we started hitting the ball pretty well,” LaPointe said. “We’ve struggled with the bat a little bit this year, so that was a good sign for us.”

The Cougars had a chance to add to their lead, loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but fortune favored the Falcons. A grounder from Whittemore was booted by Pepin at shortstop, but it bounced right to Alex Ridley at second, who was able to make the play for an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Lueders got a one-pitch out to start the seventh, but three-consecutive singles loaded the bases. A strikeout of Ridley put the game in Pepin’s hands. Pepin then hit a grounder and put it in second baseman Mason Corriveau’s hands, and he corralled a tough hop and relayed to Arsenault at first for the final out.

“Luke is not going to do anything fancy. He’s going to throw strikes. So as long as our defense is intact behind him, that’s what we were hoping for,” Palmer said. “I thought Riley Robinson and Mason Corriveau both made some big defensive plays that kept that game in check.”

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