STANDISH — The Richmond baseball team had lost to Searsport in the D South final in 2015. The Bobcats had lost in 2017. And they were due for another crack at the top-seeded Vikings in the regional final Wednesday afternoon.

And going in, coach Ryan Gardner felt this time was going to be different.

“We hit more in the last two days than we have (all year). We hit and hit and hit, we’re talking five buckets a day,” he said. “We had a focus that we haven’t had in a long time. We were going to go out and pound the ball.”

Practice made perfect. The second-seeded Bobcats unloaded on the three-time defending champions, jumping out in front with a five-run first inning and never looking back on their way to a 14-6 victory, and their first state final appearance since winning the title in 2010.

The damage finished at 14 runs on 15 hits, and when it was done, even the Bobcats themselves were surprised at how they had pulled off their payback.

“We crushed them. I have no other way to explain it, 14-6,” said senior catcher Trystin Shea, who had a triple among two hits for the Bobcats (17-1). “It feels amazing. We’ve all been looking to this day.”

Dakotah Gilpatric, batting in the ninth spot, led the Richmond attack with a triple and two hits, while Zach Small had a triple among two hits and Danny Stewart, Nate Kendrick and Andrew Vachon had two singles apiece.

Daegan Moody (double) and Owen Soucy had two hits apiece for Searsport (12-7), while Colby Snow and Connor Kneeland scored twice.

FAST START: The Richmond bats didn’t wait to heat up.

Pitcher Matt Rines led off with an infield single, and after an out, Zach Small brought him in with a triple into the right-center field gap. Stewart reached on an error that brought in Small, and after a walk to Kendrick, Shea blasted a triple to deep left that scored both runners for a 4-0 lead. He eventually scored on a passed ball that made it 5-0 before Searsport could finally stagger back to the dugout.

“We jumped all over them, right from the get-go,” Small said. “I launched one, Trystin launched one, we scored five runs right there. We were just overly prepared.”

“The confidence, you just see it rise,” Gardner said. “It gets louder and louder in the dugout, even kids that don’t play get louder and louder. It becomes contagious.”

NO LETTING UP: Searsport inched back into the game, scoring runs in the first and third. But the Bobcats weren’t finished.

After Justin Vachon led off with a single, Gilpatric smacked a pitch to deep right field for a triple. That contagious offense struck again, with Rines hitting a sacrifice fly, Stewart singling in Vachon and Kendrick hitting a single to bring in Small and make it 9-2.

The Vikings continued to fight for their South crown, scoring a run in the fourth, two in the fifth on a Soucy single and one more in the sixth, even getting the tying run to the plate. But the Bobcats had an answer again, with Gilpatric again kicking off the charge with a single, his third hit of the game, to score Shea and make it 10-6.

“I felt confident when I walked into school this morning,” the sophomore said. “I got here, I felt confident. I went up there, I felt confident. I didn’t feel that the last few games.”

“Dakotah had the game of his life,” Gardner said, whose team finished the inning up 14-6 after RBI singles from Andrew Vachon, Small and Stewart. “He struggled for a little bit and I thought about a DH, but he said ‘I’ve got this, coach.’ “

WORKMANLIKE: Rines settled down on the mound after a wild first inning, eventually finishing with four strikeouts and four hits allowed in five innings.

“If you would have told me I’d pitch this game at the beginning of this season, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “I’m willing to do whatever my coach needs me to do.”

Rines walked four and allowed four earned runs, but Gardner credited his senior’s ability to work out of trouble and maintain the lead.

“Matty gutted it out, he did a nice job for us,” he said. “He kept them off balance.”

Andrew Vachon, a freshman, pitched the final two innings and struck out two, the last of which set off a celebration on the first base line.

“We came into this game, we were ready to play,” Small said. “And we put it to them.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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