BANGOR — Dirigo High School senior righthander Chad Snowman didn’t know if he was going to play baseball this season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at the end of basketball season. But after an 11-day class trip to Italy in April, he decided he wanted to play.
And the Dixfield-based Cougars are glad he did.
Snowman pitched the first complete game of his high school career on Saturday afternoon in his first start of the season and his mates backed him with an 11-hit attack as Dirigo captured its third state Class C championship in four years and second in a row courtesy of an 8-2 win over Stearns of Millinocket at Mansfield Stadium.
Dirigo wound up 18-2 and concluded the season with a 14-game winning streak.
Stearns finished at 17-3 and had its 15-game winning streak snapped.
Snowman, who has been used in relief, scattered six hits with five strikeouts and one walk. He threw an economical 75 pitches, 52 for strikes. Just one of the runs was earned.
“My curve was the pitch that worked best for me,” said Snowman, who notched three of Dirigo’s four playoff wins with the other two coming in relief. “I noticed they had a lot of righthanded hitters. So I would start my curve right at them and it would break over the plate.”
He also threw a lot of four-seam fastballs and came inside occasionally with a two-seam fastball.
“I threw strikes and my defense did the rest for me. It was awesome,” added Snowman, who pitched from the stretch even without runners on base because it helps his control.
“He had a good curve. It broke late. We weren’t used to it,” said Stearns senior designated hitter Dylan Martin. “They outplayed us.”
“He threw a lot of strikes and we didn’t hit him,” said Stearns senior righty Jordan Morrow, who took the loss. “They were the best team we’ve played.”
“He couldn’t have done much better hitting his spots and he kept the ball down,” said Dirigo catcher Tyler Frost. “No matter what I called, he hit his spots.”
Meanwhile, everyone in the Dirigo lineup had at least one hit except Snowman, who was hit by a pitch and walked twice in four plate appearances. Five Cougars drove in at least one run.
“Early this season, we weren’t able to string our hits together. But we’ve peaked at the right time,” said Dirigo first baseman T.J. Frost, Tyler’s brother.
Dirigo scored 34 runs in its four playoff wins including 23 in the last two, the Western Maine final (15-3, 5 innings over St. Dominic’s of Auburn) and Saturday’s triumph.
The Cougars snapped a 2-2 tie with a run in the fourth inning and another in the fifth before breaking the game open with three runs in the sixth and adding another in the seventh.
Robbie Babb scored the go-ahead run in the fourth when he reached on a high bounding infield single behind the mound with one out, stole second and scored on T.J. Frost’s sharp line drive single to center.
“I was guessing curve but [Morrow] threw me a fastball up in the zone and I adjusted to it. I shortened up my swing,” said T.J. Frost.
In the fifth, Tyler Frost looped a fly-ball single near the right-field line, stole second and scored on Brett Whittemore’s high fly-ball single into right center that dropped just beyond the reach of hard-charging center fielder Cam Garvin.
In the sixth, T.J. Frost walked on four pitches and Hunter Ross was safe when an error was committed on his sacrifice bunt.
Snowman walked to load the bases and Morrow was replaced by Nick Dumas.
Tyler Frost greeted Dumas by dropping a soft RBI single to center on his first pitch; Ross scored the second run by beating Dumas’ pitch to the plate to steal home and a wild pitch delivered the third run.
Dirigo added an insurance run off Zack Bouchard in the seventh when T.J. Frost tripled to right center and Ross doubled him home.
Dylan Martin staked Stearns to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when he lofted a two-out single to left to score Kyle McVey from third.
Dirigo took the lead with a pair of runs in the third on a walk, Kaine Hutchins’ single and Spencer Trenoweth’s ringing double down the third base line.
Stearns answered with a run in the bottom of the third on Bouchard’s single, Garvin’s sacrifice, an infield error, a walk and Tanner Carrier’s line drive single to right. Dumas, who had reached on the error, tried to score from second but was thrown out at the plate.
Tyler Frost had three singles and an RBI for the winners and brother T.J. had a single and two walks to go with his triple. Ross had his RBI double.
Martin had a pair of singles and an RBI for Stearns, Carrier had his RBI single and Dumas tripled.