WALES — Oak Hill wouldn’t mind copying the success its Mountain Valley Conference counterpart, Dirigo, has enjoyed on the diamond of late. It’s a pretty good idea, given that the Cougars have won three of the last five Class C state titles.

“They’re a great team,” Oak Hill coach Matthew Bray said. “They are, in my opinion, the benchmark, and this program has to get there. I think we’re getting close.”

Oak Hill found out how close, and how much work still needs to be done, during Friday’s slugfest at Bill Fairchild Field.

Dirigo took advantage of Oak Hill’s mistakes, came up with some clutch, two-out hits late and got two shutdown innings of relief by Gavin Arsenault to pull out a seesaw 10-8 win.

Freshman Cooper Chiasson had the game-winning two-run single in the sixth inning, going to the opposite field with two out to make it 9-8 Cougars. Gus Brown drove in an insurance run with a two-out double in the sixth.

“You’ve got Cooper Chiasson coming up huge as a freshman, and Gus Brown, in his first year starting as a junior, has been nothing short of sensational all year long,” Dirigo coach Ryan Palmer said. “It’s not a bad thing, but Oak Hill is a cocky team and we knew we had to be ready for that. I thought we responded well.”

Dirigo (3-1) put pressure on Oak Hill starter Jake Bannister immediately in the first inning. Bannister, making his first start at any level, showed some first-start butterflies while allowing a walk, two wild pitches, two balks, an RBI single by Tyler Frost and an RBI double by Anthony Todd. Two errors by the Raiders also helped the Cougars jump out to a 4-0 lead.

“It was just one of those games. We made a lot of errors,” Bray said. “We’ve got to cut that out, but we’re a young team, and that’s part of being a young team, getting through that and then improving through that.”

Oak Hill (1-3) responded against Dirigo starter Kaine Hutchins with three runs in the bottom of the frame on an RBI double by Jonah Martin and a two-run single by Brent Mulherin.

“We’ve finally started making contact with the baseball. It showed today,” Bray said. “We had a lot of hits. It was certainly a confidence boost for a young team.”

The Cougars led 5-3 when the Raiders struck for four runs in the third on an RBI single by Austin Noble and a three-run double by Adam Merrill. Dirigo pulled within 7-6 in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Todd, but Oak Hill got the run back in the bottom of that frame on Martin’s sacrifice fly.

Two more Oak Hill errors greased the skids for the Cougars’ three-run sixth that put them in the lead for good.

Bannister led off the Raiders’ half of the sixth with a walk, prompting Palmer to lift Hutchins in favor of southpaw Arsenault, who immediately got Dalton Therrien to ground into what initially appeared to be a fielder’s choice, third to second. But the umpire ruled Bannister slid into the second baseman intentionally, which is illegal in high school baseball. That meant Therrien was also out at first for a double play.

“I hate, I deplore coaches that blame officials, and I want to be on the record saying that,” Bray said. “That being said, today there was a play at the plate that I felt (Dirigo catcher Frost) pulled his foot off the base. We had a play at first base where we had a runner that we thought beat it out. And there was a very clear target put on an individual player by an umpire today early. Now, a lot of that’s attitude. We’ve got to work on that. But we felt as if it wasn’t necessarily a fair shake. Now, that being said, Dirigo played a hell of a game.”

Arsenault ended the sixth by getting Martin to ground out to second, then sent the Raiders down 1-2-3 in the seventh, thanks in part to a nice running catch in right field by Brown to end the game.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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