BANGOR — Kurt Johnson kept the Blue Devils flat-footed in the batter’s box and Saint Dominic’s aggressive baserunning kept Calais’ defense back on its heels en route to a 5-4 victory in Saturday’s Class C state championship baseball game at Mansfield Stadium.
Apparently the Saints like odd-numbered years as this state title is the Auburn-based school’s fourth in the last seven years. The other ones came in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Johnson went the distance, throwing 103 pitches over seven innings while allowing five hits and four walks to go with five strikeouts in the afternoon game at Mansfield Stadium.
The Saints’ lefthander (5-2) mixed a two-seam fastball, changeup, curve and even a four-seam fastball to hold Calais hitters in check.
“He kept us off-balance a little bit, and we haven’t seen many lefties, but their defense made some good plays too,” Calais coach Kenny Murphy said. “And every time we made a mistake defensively, they hit the ball.”
And they did it in a nickel-and-dime way, for the most part, although the gambling base-running cost the Saints in the first inning as they managed just one run despite four straight singles to lead off the game. The Blue Devils managed to come out of it with just a one-run deficit, thanks to the corners. Catcher Lewis Francis gunned leadoff man Alex Parker out at third on a delayed steal attempt and first baseman Dylan Carter made a lunging catch of a line drive and doubled Jimmy Theriault off first to end the inning.
“We love to be aggressive, even though sometimes we run into outs being too aggressive, but that’s our bread and butter,” said Saint Dominic head coach Bob Blackman, whose Saints had five steals on double-steal plays.
And it tasted good in the third, when the Saints plated two runs on three hits, the biggest of which were RBI singles by Kurt Johnson and Andrew Gosselin with one out and two outs, respectively. Johnson stole second before Gosselin hit him home. It also worked well in the fourth, when the Saints scored a run with just one hit — a two-out RBI single by William Desmarais that scored Matthew Roy, who pinch-ran after Kyle Hargreaves walked, and stole second.
Calais tied it with a four-run fourth on three hits — the key ones being a two-run, one-out triple to right by Francis followed by an RBI single up the middle by Nathan Pike — plus a wild pitch, an error and a stolen base.
The Saints got the lost momentum right back, however, in the next half inning as they scored a run without the benefit of a hit. Joe Bryant reached on a two-base throwing error, went to third on a fly ball, and scored on a bad relay throw to third on the same play.
“I had trouble locating my two-seamer and curveball in the fourth and I walked a couple, but after that inning, my curve came back and it made me that much better a pitcher,” said Johnson. “And it was huge having that run right back to give us the lead again.”
Johnson faced the minimum three batters in four of the seven innings as the Blue Devils left only two runners on base. Calais never advanced a runner beyond first base in any inning other than the fourth.
The Saints finish the season 18-2. while Calais, which loses just one senior player, winds up 15-2-1.