MADISON — Trevor Flanagan did everything right. The Monmouth Academy third baseman fielded the grounder cleanly, and looked Dustin Crawford back to third before throwing to first base for the out. Crawford wasn’t deterred, though, and as soon as Flanagan let loose his throw across the diamond, Crawford broke for home. Crawford’s slide just beat the tag of catcher Corey Armstrong.

“Sometimes I’m a little eager on the basepaths,” Crawford said. “Sometimes it gets me in trouble, but other times it pays off.”

The run was Crawford’s third of the day, helping Bridgeway earn a 10-0 win over Monmouth in a game shortened to six innings via the mercy rule. Crawford also drove in a pair of runs, including the game-clincher in the bottom of the sixth, and pitched four scoreless innings. The lone Carrabec senior on a team comprised of players from Carrabec and Madison high schools, Crawford is a leader with the Bandits, who finished the regular season at 13-3 and will likely be the top seed in the Class B South playoffs.

“That’s huge for the program. Two programs coming together that have had a lot of success and are working hard, (the top seed’s) a testament to how they’ve done that,” Bridgeway coach Scott Franzose said.

Last fall, when Madison and Carrabec decided to merge their baseball programs into a cooperative team, one of the Carrabec players Franzose looked forward to working with was Crawford, who was an all-Mountain Valley Conference player with Carrabec last season.

“I’ve seen Dustin play summer ball. We’ve faced him, so we know what he brings on the diamond as a competitor. That’s the biggest thing, he’s just gritty. He’s a baseball kid,” Franzose, who coached Madison the previous seven season, said. “He’s got great instincts, he’s versatile. He’s really added to our pitching staff. He’s just a fun kid to coach. I wish I had a few more years with him… He’s brought leadership. Everything you ask of a senior baseball player, he brings.”

For his part, Crawford was eager to play alongside his new teammates on the Bridgeway squad.

“To be honest, I was pretty excited about it. Being the only senior (from Carrabec) is a little bit scary, but I’ve been playing with a lot of these guys for a long time, so I was ready for it,” Crawford said. “Coming into a new system and being expected to fill a leadership role was kind of tough.”

In Thursday’s win over the Mustangs, Crawford (.440 batting average, 14 stolen bases) showcased all the ways he has helped the Bandits. Hitting in the No. 2 spot in the order, Crawford reached base each of his four at bats. His first inning triple to right field scored Sean Whalen with Bridgeway’s first run, and Crawford soon scored on an Evan Bess groundout to short. In the second inning, Crawford took a two-out walk and scored on an Evan Holzworth single.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Crawford took a one-out walk, then swiped second and third base, setting up his cat and mouse game with Flanagan on Holzworth’s grounder.

“He’s very aggressive on the bases, but that’s what we preach. Dustin really fits that mold. He does everything I like. He stays aggressive, stays alert, he’s got good instincts,” Franzose said. “He’s on top of every pitch. He’s hard on his secondary leads. He just does all that stuff right. He gets those jumps to help the team win.”

On the mound, Crawford is 5-0, and has settled into a co-ace role with Ryan Emery. Crawford started Thursday’s game and worked four innings of one-hit ball, striking out six and walking two. He used a good fastball and strong offspeed pitches to get out of the one jam he faced, when Monmouth had Avery Pomerleau on third base with one out in the top of the first inning.

“We joke around that it usually takes him 100 pitches to warm up. That’s his line. He worked hard on the offspeed stuff. He’s spinning well right now. Him and Ryan have become 1A and 1B,” Franzose said.

Added Crawford: “Offspeed stuff is definitely key. Changing speed, a lot of people underestimate it.”

Defensively, Crawford did make an error, sailing a throw to first base when he moved to third in the top of the fifth inning. But he bracketed that play with a pair of gems. First, he charged a slow grounder off the bat of Flanagan, making a backhand stab before making the throw for the out. Later in the inning, Crawford fielded a sharp grounder and threw to second, throwing out Gabriel Martin as he scrambled back to the bag.

“All phases of the game for him right now are clicking,” Franzose said.

Bridgeway enters the playoffs with four shutouts in its last six games. Crawford plans on attending Husson University, where he hopes to try out for the baseball team. First, there’s the playoffs with the Bandits.

“We expected a good season. I don’t know if we expected this good, but we’re very excited to move forward,” Crawford said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM