BINGHAM — Valley limited senior pitcher Cody Laweryson’s exposure to Richmond’s lineup in the teams’ two regular season meetings because it was anticipating a final showdown in the Class D South tournament.

The Cavaliers unleashed the University of Maine-bound righthander for Friday’s semifinal and got exactly the kind of dominating performance they envisioned.

Laweryson stymied the third-seeded Bobcats with a two-hit, 16-strikeout masterpiece to send No. 2 Valley to the regional final with a 4-1 win.

Valley will meet the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between No. 1 Searsport and No. 5 Rangeley at 3 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

The 6-foot-4 Laweryson no-hit Richmond through the first 5 2/3 innings before Matt Rines ripped a first-pitch fastball up the middle for a clean single. Laweryson, who had been using his fastball for first-pitch strikes to virtually every hitter, didn’t regret sticking to the plan.

“It sets up all of my other pitches,” Laweryson said. “It sets up my breaking ball. It makes it so much better. You can’t have a breaking ball without a fastball.”

“I intentionally kept Cody away from them the first two times. He pitched two innings in our first game down there,” said Valley coach Scott Laweryson, Cody’s father. “I’ve got three other guys that throw well, so I just said we’re going to take a chance with somebody else so if we do see them in the playoffs, they haven’t seen him enough that they’re going to be used to him. I think it helped.”

Richmond (12-6), which beat Valley (14-2) in both of those games, still had a pretty good idea of what it was up against. Typically one of the more aggressive baserunning teams, the Bobcats turned it up a notch from the start on Friday.

Brendan Emmons, the second batter of the game, reached base on a swinging third strike that went to the backstop. He went to second on another wild pitch, advanced to third on a grounder back to Laweryson, then alertly made a delayed steal of home on one of catcher Dillon Beane’s return throws to Laweryson to go up 1-0.

“We were debating it at third base,” Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said. “I thought he wanted to do a straight steal and I told him ‘No, you’re not straight stealing.’ He thought he could do (the delayed steal) and he did it. He’s an upperclassmen and he’s got that opportunity.”

“They’re always aggressive on the bases. They have been all year, probably with every team,” Cody Laweryson said. “I was just trying to throw strikes and do my job.”

The Cavaliers responded with patience against Richmond starter Zach Small, who had pitched in the two regular season games. Back-to-back walks to Brandon Thomas and Laweryson with one out in the bottom of the first set up a game-tying single by Collin Miller. Luke Malloy followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Laweryson and put Valley in front.

Valley put together a two-out rally in the second to go up 4-1. Nathan Ames tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Thomas and Laweryson drew back-to-back walks again and Miller came through once more with an RBI single to right.

“Our top five in the order, as it has always been doing all year, produces whenever we need them to,” Scott Laweryson said. “They kept it going with two outs.”

Thomas drew a walk in all four of his plate appearances. Laweryson walked three times. Miller went 3-for-3 and would have had another RBI if Rines hadn’t fired a strike with his relay throw home from shallow left-center to cut down Thomas in the fourth.

“My strength is probably hitting right now, so it’s key to have people on in front of me,” Miller said. “Cody’s hitting good, but usually they walk him. So we put him in front of us and if they walk him, they pay.”

“Three walks scored. And the Miller kid put the ball in play and scored some runs for them,” Gardner said. “He’s the guy that got us today.”

The Bobcats only put three balls in play through the first five innings (none to the outfield) and Laweryson allowed only one other baserunner in that time, on a hit by pitch. Second baseman Joshua Brown temporarily preserved the no-hitter with a diving catch to rob Brady Johnson to end the fifth.

Emmons threw two innings of shutout relief to keep the Bobcats in it. Curtis Anderson picked up Richmond’s second hit with two out in the seventh, but Laweryson ended the game with his 16th K to send the Cavaliers back to the regional final for the first time since 2012.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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