BREWER — Narraguagus High School senior shortstop Madison Leighton hadn’t hit the ball out of the infield in her three previous at-bats, striking out twice.
But she came through in the ninth inning on Tuesday night. Leighton drilled a two-run single to left to snap a 2-2 tie and Narraguagus went on to post a 4-2 victory over defending three-time regional champ Bucksport in the Class C North final at Coffin Field in Brewer.
It was Narraguagus’ first regional championship since 2002. The Knights (18-1) play South champion madison (19-0) in Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. state final at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.
Bucksport wound up 17-2.
Kaci Alley started the ninth-inning rally by drawing the first walk of the game off Bucksport ace Katelin Saunders.
Emma Redimarker, whose outstanding defensive play at second base saved two runs in the sixth inning, followed by walloping a double to left-center.
Leighton fell behind in the count 0-2 before lining the next pitch over the third baseman’s head into left field to score Alley and Redimarker.
“It took me a while to adjust to their pitcher,” said Leighton. “I knew I needed to come through in that moment. The pitch was a little outside and I hit it. I was so glad to see it hit the ground in left.”
Bucksport freshman Alexis Wardwell tied the game with a clutch two-out single in the fourth inning.
Narraguagus had taken a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Maggie Bires started the fourth-inning rally with a ground-ball single just beyond the reach of the second baseman into right field. Saunders then punched a soft liner that went off the top of the second baseman’s glove for a base hit and Zoe Hosford walked to load the bases.
Wardwell then poked an 0-1 pitch into center field to tie it.
The Knights wasted little time lighting up the scoreboard.
Anna Taylor lined Saunders’ second pitch of the game over the left fielder’s head for a double and continued to third on an errant throw from the outfield. Kirsten Kennedy then pulled an 0-2 pitch over the right fielder’s head for a run-scoring triple and she scored when Perry’s grounder skipped through the shortstop’s legs.
Hard-throwing Lanie Perry went the distance for the win. She allowed seven hits and struck out eight. She walked one and hit a batter.
“We made the defensive plays we needed to and came through with some big hits at the end,” Perry said.
Saunders pitched well for Bucksport, allowing nine hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk.
The Bucks had a golden opportunity to take their first lead of the game in the sixth.
Bires belted a one-out double and Saunders singled to left. Pinch-runner Alexis Leeman stole second to put runners on second and third with one out.
Hosford hit a liner back to Perry and Wardwell nearly broke the tie with a sharp ground ball to the left of Redimarker. Redimarker dove to her left to knock the ball down, found it and wheeled around to throw out Wardwell at first.
Both teams made a number of defensive gems with Bucksport shortstop Darian Jellison making two great catches on popups to help Saunders.
Madison Pray, the No. 9 hitter in the Narraguagus lineup, had a double and two singles.
She was the Knights’ lone repeat hitter.
Bires doubled and singled for Bucksport and Saunders singled twice.