Jun. 18—GORHAM — When Saint Dominic Academy reaches a state baseball championship game, the Saints tend to bring the trophy home, and that's just what they did Saturday.
The Saints defeated Machias 3-1 for the Class D state championship at Ed Flaherty Field at the University of Southern Maine.
They won their past four state championship appearances in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2015, which all came in Class C. In all, the Saints have won six state championships, winning in the 2005 Class C state championship before losing in the 2006 state final.
"It's been seven years since we've won one, and this is my first one down this way," said St. Dom's coach Bob Blackman, who has been on the coaching staff for all six championships. "The other five were all (won) up in Bangor. It was good to take that monkey off our back and win one down this way."
This was Machias' second-straight Class D state championship appearance. The Bulldogs lost to Searsport in 2021.
The Bulldogs hope to make a few more state championship appearances in the coming years.
"It was a good baseball game, St. Dom's is a great team," Machias coach Sam Whitney said. "It would be nice to have some games like that against them in the future. They are a very young team, so I know they will be back, and we have some great young talent coming up through, so I think it could lead to a rematch."
Much of Saturday's action took place in the opening inning.
The leadoff hitter for the Bulldogs (16-3), Kason Fergerson, sent a line drive to center field to start the game off with a bang.
St. Dom's starter Ashton Hammond got Kashman Feeney and Jayden Rhodes to fly out to center. Machias' cleanup hitter Kyle Anderson sent a line drive to the right-field gap that scored Fergerson from first.
"We got a hit to fall which we couldn't do the rest of the game," Whitney said. "We hit the ball well, but it was right at them. They made some plays, as you can see. We out-hit them 6-2."
The top of the first ended with Hammond striking out Ethan Foss.
The Saints' (10-8) top of the order, Timothee Ouellette and Miles Frenette, each reached base. Both runners stole second base and cleanup hitter Tanner Berry-Hart singled up the middle to score both for a 2-1 lead.
Berry-Hart didn't think his two RBIs would hold up.
"I thought we were going to get more (runs), but it worked out," Berry-Hart said. "I wasn't expecting to score two, but I was expecting one when I was up to bat. I knew I had a job to do."
Berry-Hart stole second base with Thomas Casserly at the plate but starting pitcher Feeney picked him off at second to end the inning.
Blackman said he thought the game could have been a slugfest after that first inning, with the number of pitches both pitchers had thrown the past week and a half.
"I think both pitchers weren't 100 percent coming off of 10 days of baseball," Blackman said. "We kept making plays and once we did that and made plays, we didn't have to strike out everybody."
Hammond settled down in the second and third innings, only facing seven batters across the two frames.
"They are a good team; their top four hitters can get the bat on the ball," Hammond said. "I was a little nervous, but I settled in the second inning."
A big turning point in the game, according to Blackman, came in the third inning when Saints catcher Ridge Dionne threw out Rhodes at second base.
"That basically set the tone they weren't going to run on us," Blackman said.
The Saints loaded the bases again in the bottom of the fourth and a Miles Frennette walk drove in Curtis Wheeler to give St. Dom's a 3-1 lead. It was the lone run the Bulldogs gave up in the inning.
"We only went 1-2-3 in one inning," Blackman said. "If we could have got the clutch hit, we probably could have blown it open."
The fourth was the last inning Machias' starter Kasman Feeney pitched. In four innings of work, he allowed three runs on two hits and had six strikeouts. Kyle Anderson threw two innings of relief, allowing no hits and striking out two.
After Hammond hit Foss with a pitch, Ouellette came on in relief with one out in the top of the fifth. Brayden Barker singled, but he couldn't get back to first in time on a Kasen Fergerson pop-out, which ended the inning.
Machias had another inning-ending double play in the sixth.
"We had two double plays that killed any momentum that we had," Whitney said.
Hammond, who came back to pitch at the start of the sixth inning, got the Bulldogs to go down in order in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Hammond went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits with three strikeouts and a hit batter.
When Hammond was taken out in the fifth inning, Blackman told him he would be back on the bump to finish the game.
"I was told I would go back in," Hammond said. "I just needed to cool down. A big game, a lot of nerves. Also, a lot of pitches were thrown the last week, so I definitely had a tired arm."