Orono gets past Dexter for C North baseball crown

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BANGOR — Between a semifinal playoff loss in football and a regional championship game setback in basketball, postseason fortunes have not been kind to the boys programs at Orono High School during this school year.

But the Red Riots were able to reverse that misfortune on the baseball diamond on the evening of June 14 against the team that knocked them out of the football playoffs last October.

Senior Nate DeSisto drove in what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the fifth and classmate Jackson Coutts pitched three scoreless innings of relief as the third-seeded Red Riots upended No. 5 Dexter 2-1 in the Class C North baseball final at Mansfield Stadium.

“It feels amazing,” said DeSisto, who scattered one run on two hits while going the first four innings for the Riots. “We’ve been working at this all year and it just all came together at the right time.”

Coach Don Joseph’s club (13-6) advanced to the state championship game, and Dexter wraps up the season at 12-7.

Orono manufactured a first-inning run thanks to an Evan Kenefic base hit, a Coutts double down the right-field line and a DeSisto groundout to shortstop. But this turned out to be a night of offensive frustration for the Riots, who stranded seven baserunners.

That had somewhat to do with the pitching of Dexter junior Jacob Bickford, who extinguished a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the bottom of the third. Gage Stone had led off the Dexter third with a walk and eventually came around to score on an error.

Bickford allowed only five hits.

“He battles, he’s been that way all year,” Dexter coach Chad Graffam said. “Sometimes he gets down on himself but tonight he was right there and he executed. He’s got that kind of stuff and he works hard.”

DeSisto, who is not as overpowering as Coutts, didn’t allow a ball to be hit out of the infield after Dexter had scored in the third.

“It wasn’t my best game on the mound,” admitted the left-handed DeSisto, “but our defense played great and they picked me up.”

One of those defensive plays came from third baseman Connor Robertson, who made a diving catch on a popped up bunt down the third-base line in the second inning and doubled off a runner at third base to help extinguish a Dexter threat.

That allowed the Riots to build the bridge from DeSisto to Coutts, who allowed just one baserunner (error) while overpowering the Tigers with his fastball.

“I love the fastball. Sometimes I throw a curveball just to show that I’ve got it but I usually just [live off] the fastball,” said Coutts, son of University of Maine softball coach Mike Coutts.

It was Coutts’ bat that spearheaded Orono’s winning rally in the fifth inning as he singled and stole second before DeSisto ripped a single to center to plate Coutts.

“I was so frustrated, we left so many guys on base [but] when I saw the ball go through I was just pumping my arm,” DeSisto said.

DeSisto was merely looking to advance Coutts to third, and he wound up with an even bigger reward.

Coutts, who struck out five in his three innings, retired the final six Tigers in order to preserve the win.

“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” Coutts said. “It feels good to get one in baseball. It’s pretty special.”

Matt Richards and Nate Richards had Dexter’s lone hits with a single apiece.

“These kids have busted their rear ends for me all year long,” Graffam said. “It just didn’t go our way. They’ve got a lot to be proud of.”

Bangor Daily News photo/Pete Warner
RUNNING AWAY FROM HOMEPLATE — Dexter baserunner Zach White scrambles to get back to third base after Orono third baseman Connor Robertson made a diving stab of a popup during the June 14 Class C North championship game in Bangor. While Dexter’s Tyler Beem (32) looks on. White was doubled off at third on the play. Third-seeded Orono earned a 2-1 victory over the No. 5 Tigers.

Bangor Daily News photo/Pete Warner
HARD SLIDE — Dexter shortstop Brayden Miller is upended by Orono baserunner Jackson Coutts on a steal of second base during the fifth inning of the regional final on June 14.

Bangor Daily News photo/Pete Warner
TIGER ON THE MOUND — Dexter’s Jacob Bickford delivers a pitch during last Wednesday’s Class C North baseball title game against Orono at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

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