READFIELD — Maranacook coach Eric Brown said St. Dominic Academy was the last team he wanted to see in Wednesday’s Class C South quarterfinal matchup. And with good reason.

The Saints have a storied playoff history under coach Bob Blackman that includes seven state championship appearances and five titles. But this year it’s the Black Bears who have the experience with a roster full of seniors, while the Saints are comprised of underclassmen.

Those seniors, led by starting pitcher Dan Garand, jumped in front early and scored some insurance runs late en route to a 6-2 victory.

Third-seeded Maranacook (14-3) advances to play the winner of today’s quarterfinal between Lisbon and Monmouth on Saturday. Sixth-seeded St. Dom’s finishes at 11-6.

Garand, who lost 2-0 to the Saints during the regular season, came out firing. The husky right-hander retired the first nine batters he faced, fanning seven of them.

“I just brought it the best I could,” said Garand, who is 6-2 this season. “We’re playing every game like it’s going to be our last.”

Riley Volpe (5-2) started for the Saints and got into trouble in the second when the Bears touched him for three hits. Mitch Root singled, but St. Dom’s escaped worse damage by throwing two runners out at the plate, the first from third baseman Derek Wolverton and the second from center fielder Jacques Ouellette.

A steady light rain began to fall in the second inning and continued until the sixth, complicating matters for both pitchers, who had trouble gripping their curveballs.

“(Volpe) has to live and die with his off-speed pitches,” Blackman said of his junior left-hander.

Maranacook scored twice off Volpe in the third, getting back-to-back RBI singles from Duncan Rogers and Root. But the Saints came back for a pair in the fourth, one of them unearned. Mac Pelletier, the lone senior on the team, doubled deep to left for the first hit off Garand and later scored on Wolverton’s squeeze bunt which went for a hit when no one covered first base.

The Bears were well aware of Blackman’s tendency to use the squeeze.

“We’ve been going over it for two days and we botched it,” Garand said.

Garand escaped the inning when Jared Beckwith fielded Zach Pelletier’s swinging bunt at third and Silas Mohlar made a nice scoop of the ball at first.

Maranacook made an even better play to open the fifth, when Rogers made an over the shoulder catch of Matthew Gosselin’s deep fly ball to left.

“That’s the best catch I’ve seen at the high school level in my 15-year career,” Blackman said.

The Saints began to get to Garand after the first time through the order.

“We took a more aggressive approach after (the rain),” Blackman said. “We were sitting dead red.”

Garand gave up a single to Dominic Chasse — and his only walk to Volpe — before making a nice play himself on Ouellette’s squibber between third and the mound and catching leadoff hitter Hunter Hughes looking at a nasty curve.

Blackman brought in Pelletier to pitch and he shut down the Bears for two innings before Volpe returned to the mound. This was done in an effort to keep the pitch count down for both pitchers if they advanced to Saturday’s semifinal.

Garand left after the fifth inning and 85 pitches, complaining of soreness in his throwing arm.

“That’s why I took him out at that point,” Brown said. “I was planing on using (John) Lauter for the seventh.”

Lauter got three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth off Volpe, when Beckwith singled home a run with the bases loaded and Garand followed with a two-run single.

Lauter, a hard-throwing lefty with a sharp curve, got two quick outs in the seventh before loading the bases. He got Pelletier to pop up to first to end the game.

Root had three of Maranacook’s 10 hits while Garand added two. Pelletier singled and doubled for the Saints.

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