May 21, 2018
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Lafleur pitches Dirigo to first baseball crown


    STANDISH — Tyler Chiasson had seen the tenacity of the Calais Blue Devils before.

Two years ago, Chiasson and the Dirigo of Dixfield boys basketball team were on their way to victory in the 2009 Class C state final, only to have Calais rally in the fourth quarter for a stunning 40-39 upset over the favored Cougars.

Chiasson may have had a nightmare or two since then, but Saturday afternoon’s sun-splashed Class C baseball state final at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College offered him the oppor-tunity for personal revenge — albeit amid considerable respect.

“Before the last inning, I told the guys, they can come back, I’ve seen it before,” said Chiasson. “You’ve got to keep your heads in the game.”

True to form, the Blue Devils had comeback on their minds again after falling behind by four runs, but this time Dirigo (18-2) had built enough of a lead behind senior righthander Ryan Lafleur to hold on for a 4-2 victory and the Cougars’ first state title in the sport.

“Our goal was a perfect season,” said Lafleur, who finished his season with a 9-0 record. “But when we did lose, including the [Mountain Valley Conference] championship, that showed us that we’ve got to start out early, get on top and get that momentum and ride it out to a win.”

Backed by an errorless defense, Lafleur struck out 11 and walked three while holding Calais scoreless until the seventh.

“He was a good pitcher,” said Calais righthander Josh Gillespie. “He had good location with curveball, and he threw the hardest of anyone we’d seen all year.”

While Lafleur had no answer for Calais center fielder Dylan Ramsdell — who had three of the Blue Devils’ six hits — he was effective in slowing Calais’ speed game by not letting it get started.

The top four batters in the Blue Devils’ lineup — who each had stolen at least 20 bases entering the state final — went a combined 2 for 12 with just two stolen bases, both by shortstop Adam Geel.

“He kept us off balance,” said Calais coach Kenny Murphy, “and it seemed like he pitched even better when our best hitters came up. He was throwing BBs.”

Dirigo used its own speed to build a 4-0 lead, as three of the baserunners who scored stole a base along the way. Leadoff hitter Spencer Ross stole three bases and scored twice to spark the Cougars.

Gillespie, one of just three seniors on the Calais roster, struggled with his control at times during his five innings on the mound, walking six batters to go with seven strikeouts. But the righthander also limited Dirigo to just three hits and three earned runs.

Dirigo scored one run in each of its final four at-bats, the first three coming with two outs in the inning.

Chaisson delivered an RBI single to center in the third to drive home Ross, who had drawn a one-out walk and stolen second base.

Arik Fenstermacher reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored from there on an infield hit by Cliff Turner in the fourth.

Turner grounded the ball off the mound, and it caromed over to Calais shortstop Adam Geel, whose throw to first was just late. Fenstermacher, rounding third as the play was being made at first, kept running and sped home to make it 2-0.

Ross drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, stole both second and third, and scored on a wild pitch to give the Cougars a three-run lead.

Lafleur got out of his first jam in the sixth. Alex Barnett drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Jeremy Carr. Geel followed with a two-out infield single to move Barnett to third and stole second to put two runners in scoring position, but Lafleur got Gillespie to ground out to third to end the threat.

Dirigo added an unearned run off Geel in the sixth. But Calais (15-4) wasn’t ready to concede, finally breaking through against Lafleur in the seventh. Ramsdell and Dylan Carter led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and a one-out walk to Nathan Pike loaded the bases.

Lafleur then struck out Barnett, but Carr grounded a two-run single off Ross’ glove at shortstop to drive home Ramsdell and Carter.

With Geel and Gillespie — the 3-4 hitters in the Calais lineup — waiting on deck, Lafleur reached back to strike out Jeremy Beers to end the game.

“I’m so proud of my guys,” said Murphy, whose Calais team will return 12 of the 15 players on its roster next spring. “They worked so hard to get here, and they never quit.”

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