STANDISH — Orono head coach Don Joseph said the Red Riots plan was to run on the bases until Monmouth threw them out.

By the time the Mustangs did, in the seventh inning, they trailed by five runs. And there was no comeback in the bottom half of the frame, as Orono used dominant pitching, lead-off hits and stolen bases to beat Monmouth 5-0 and win the Class C baseball state championship Saturday at Larry Mahaney Diamond on the campus of St. Joseph’s College.

“The beauty of this team, and (athletic director) Mike Archer said it like the first week during preseason, he said, ‘You guys have something on this team that you haven’t had for a long time … a lot of speedsters,'” Joseph said. “We have five or six guys, if you can teach the technique of stealing, we’re going to put pressure on people. We’re going to go until they say we’re going to get you.”

The Red Riots (17-3) didn’t crack the cover off the ball, scattering seven hits, but every time the leadoff batter reached base, they made the most of it. That started with Zach Needham, who led off the game with a single,stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a Caleb Ryder sacrifice fly.

“We knew they were going to run. We knew they had wheels, we knew they were fast. Just we couldn’t get things together,” Monmouth (16-4) coach Eric Palleschi said. “… The last throw that (catcher Manny Calder) makes is one that we typically see him make. You can’t give up second base every time a guy gets to first.”

Calder picked off Ellis Spaulding to end the top of the seventh after Spaulding led off with a single.

Ryder led off the top of the fourth with a single — Orono’s second hit of the game — to get the Red Riots’ second run-scoring inning going. He stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on Cam Shorette’s RBI groundout.

Consecutive one-out hits in the fifth, with Dana Crocker getting the first, stealing second and scoring one run, then Spaulding also stealing second, moving to third on a groundout and scoring on Jason Desisto’s double to make it 4-0.

That knocked out Mustangs junior starter Hayden Fletcher, who was making his first varsity pitching appearance.

“He’s been throwing bullpens all year. He’s been throwing intersquad games all year. So we knew what he was capable of, and he went out there and he did exactly what we thought he would do,” Palleschi said.

Fletcher gave up five hits, struck out two and walked one.

He was relieved by second baseman Kyle Palleschi, and the two players switched spots in the field. As Fletcher was walking to his new position he got a pep talk from Monmouth’s lone senior, Cam Armstrong.

“I just said, ‘Hey, don’t hang your head, man. Who cares? Listen, I think you’re going to be back here next year, and hell of a performance to come out here and do that first start varsity,'” recalled Armstrong, who said he and the rest of the team had 100% trust in Fletcher.

Palleschi got out of the fifth — after intentionally walking Ryder to create some force-out opportunities, he induced Zack Dill to line out to shortstop Isaac Oliveira.

The Red Riots added their final run in the sixth, with Jordan Cota singling with one out, stealing second and third, and coming home on Javier Santiago’s sacrifice fly.

Dill kept the Mustangs off the scoreboard in his six innings on the mound. He worked around an Oliveira one-out walk and Hunter Frost two-out single in the second, a Fletcher one-out single in the third and Matt Marquis’ lead-off single in the fourth. A Desisto pick-off from his catching spot to gun down Marquis at third base ended that inning.

“Jason Desisto has got a 30-aught-6, and I’ve seen him pick off guys at third base at least three times this year,” Joseph said. “He’s got a gun.”

Armstrong led off the sixth with a single and eventually made it to third but was left stranded there. Dill scattered four hits, struck out two and walked one.

“I think we just didn’t have the pitcher timed up,” Armstrong said. “He’s a good pitcher and he kept us off balance and stuff like that. So it took us a little bit to time it up, and then we started hitting it, but we just didn’t have the baserunners on when we were hitting it.”

Shorette pitched a dominant bottom of the seventh, striking out the first two batters on three pitches each. He hit Calder on the first pitch to put a runner on, but then struck out Fletcher looking on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

“I thought our kids played well. You know, we went out here, we didn’t give up big innings, we didn’t give up errors,” Palleschi said. “We gave up a run an inning, which turned out to be too many.”

2021 Maine baseball state championship results:

Class A — South Portland wins first state championship since 1952

Class B — Old Town defeats Freeport in title game

Class C — Orono 5, Monmouth 0

Class D — Searsport 8, Machias 4

2021 Maine softball state championship results: 

Class A — Skowhegan wins state crown with seventh-inning rally

Class B — Cape Elizabeth slugs way to state title

Class C — Hall-Dale beats Dexter to win first state championship

Class D — Searsport 8, Ashland 3

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