ORONO, Maine — Matt Crane has two wins this season for the Dexter High baseball team. And they couldn’t have come at a better time for the Tigers.
The junior righthander pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday afternoon, combining with classmate Dylan Graffam on a one-hitter to lead No. 4 Dexter to a 7-0 victory over top seed Orono in an Eastern Maine Class C semifinal at the University of Maine’s Mahaney Diamond.
Coach Chad Graffam’s Tigers (13-5) advance to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. regional championship game at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor against No. 3 Calais, a 12-5 winner Saturday over Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln.
The Red Riots close out the season at 13-5.
“We played with a lot of energy. We had great hustle today,” said Dexter’s Trevor Fogarty. “We played with a lot of passion, too.”
Crane, who pitched three innings in relief to earn the victory in Thursday’s 11-inning quarterfinal win over Bucksport, returned on one day’s rest.
“He told me after the Bucksport game, ‘I want to start on Saturday,’” coach Graffam explained. “I’m not going to argue with him, because he had a look in his eye.”
Crane, mixing mostly a two-seam a fastball and a curveball, allowed only a third-inning single to batter Conor McKaig. He was lifted after walking the bases loaded with one out in the sixth.
“What I wanted to focus on was just to get it going early and throw strikes,” said Crane (2-1), who struck out four, walked six and threw 91 pitches.
“Toward the end, I was getting a little tired, a little jittery,” he said. “We had the lead and I didn’t want to blow it.”
Graffam made sure that didn’t happen. He came on and struck out each of the five batters he faced.
The teams split during the regular season as Dexter won 5-2 at home on May 22, then Orono took a 12-2 decision on May 18 amidst a 10-game win streak that ended Saturday.
Fogarty propelled the Dexter offense with three hits, including a two-run triple in the fourth inning, and scored twice. Graffam laced a run-scoring double and Ryan Wilks posted a single and scored two runs.
Dexter scored the only run it would require in the second inning off Orono starter Bryce Mehnert (4-1).
Crane stroked a hard single through the left side, then Brandon Spratt fisted an infield single to shortstop. Crane took third on a wild pitch and Spratt stole second.
Jacob Sinclair’s RBI groundout gave the Tigers the lead for good.
Orono demonstrated patience at the plate, working the six walks, but couldn’t find any holes in the defense. The Red Riots had men on base in three innings, but stranded six baserunners.
“They got momentum, we couldn’t stymie it, and when we got a little bit of momentum, they stopped it,” said Orono coach Don Joseph. “That’s the sign of a good team.”
In the third, Mehnert worked a leadoff walk, but was doubled off first when shortstop Fogarty snared a line drive off the bat of Cam Mowrer and threw over.
Mehnert lasted only 2⅓ innings. He gave up three runs on five hits, walked three and struck out two.
Dexter added a run in the third on singles by Wilks and Fogarty, Casey Jordan’s sacrifice bunt and walks to Graffam and Crane (RBI).
Dom Mowrer pitched out of the jam when Spratt popped up a squeeze bunt on which third baseman Mehnert made a diving play, then doubled Fogarty off at third base.
Dom Mowrer worked the last 4⅔ innings, but was touched up for four runs in the fourth inning, when the Tigers took control.
Jared MacDonald walked, Sinclair was hit by a pitch and Vinny Malinauskas bunted his way on. Wilks then reached on a fielder’s choice bunt back to the mound when Mowrer got the force at home plate, but MacDonald’s slide disrupted catcher Ethan Halls’ throw to first.
The high throw was backed up by second baseman Justin White, but Sinclair alertly raced home with a run.
Fogarty followed by lining a two-run triple over the head of left fielder Cam Mowrer and Jordan added a sacrifice fly to make it 6-0.
“We knew if we could get a big lead, we’d be in good shape from there,” Fogarty said.
The Tigers added a run in the seventh on Graffam’s line-drive double down the line in left, which scored Fogarty (leadoff single).