MADISON — Lauria LeBlanc gave a fist pump when she got the strikeout of Maranacook’s Abbie Jacques to end the top of the fifth inning. To LeBlanc, Madison’s starting pitcher, it was the biggest out of the game.

“The bases were loaded, so if she hits a grand slam it’s a 4-4 game,” LeBlanc said. “I just knew I needed to get it, and I was pretty hyped when I got it.”

That out ended Maranacook’s last — and best — chance to score in Saturday’s Class C South semifinal game. The Bulldogs added two runs in the bottom of the fifth, then two more in the sixth inning to pull away with an 8-0 win. The victory was Madison’s second consecutive playoff shutout, and the Bulldogs have now outscored playoff opponents 20-0.

Madison runner Lillian Levesque (24) slides safely into third base before Maranacook’s Evelyn St. Germain can get the ball during a Class C South semifinal game Saturday afternoon in Madison. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

“They’ve got that edge. They’ve got that edge all the way through. It makes a difference,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said of Madison.

No. 1 Madison (17-1) advanced to the Class C South regional final for a seventh consecutive season. The defending state champion Bulldogs will face No. 3 Sacopee Valley (13-4) Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. No. 5 Maranacook ends the season at 14-4.

“We say at the beginning of the year, we’ve got to get to our second home (St. Joe’s),” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said.

Madison took advantage of Black Bear mistakes, scoring a a pair of unearned runs in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Lauria LeBlanc led off the inning with a single, and hustled to third base on Emily Blauvelt’s sacrifice bunt. When a Maranacook throw attempting to get LeBlanc at third went wide, LeBlanc scored. Jennifer Dean then singled and scored when Jerzey Tewksbury reached on an error.

The Bulldogs doubled their lead in the third inning. Katie Worthen led off with a single, swiped second base, and scored on another Maranaook error. LeBlanc singled, the second of her three hits, and scored on Blauvelt’s double for a 4-0 lead.

The Bulldogs focused on manufacturing runs throughout the game, stealing four bases.

“We’re still not where we’d like to be. We’ve been practicing it because it’s going to come down to that. That small ball is key,” Coach LeBlanc said.

The four-run lead was plenty for LeBlanc, who only faced one jam, when the Black Bears loaded the bases in the fifth on a walk, error, and intentional walk of Amanda Goucher. LeBlanc’s inning ending strikeout preserved the shutout.

“They’re intense on every play. We looked like a deer in the headlights sometimes. But we’ll learn from it,” Beckwith said.

Madison pitcher Lauria LeBlanc delivers a pitch during a Class C South semifinal game Saturday afternoon against Maranacook in Madison. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

With one out and a runner on first base in the top of sixth, Coach LeBlanc lifted Lauria and put freshman Brooke McKenney in to pitch. The move was to give the younger pitcher experience in a playoff situation, he said. McKenney retired all five hitters she faced to finish the victory.

“I had complete confidence that Lauria could have shut out the game, but they have a good relationship and she understood it was more of, if we are in a situation where I’ve got to bring Brooke in in the middle of the inning, that’s why I did it,” Coach LeBlanc said.

Worthen had three hits, including a triple, and scored three runs. Dean had a pair of hits for the Bulldogs. Sophomore Natalie Costa pitched a complete game for Maranacook, striking out two and walking five.

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