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Ryan MacDougall
Ryan MacDougall

Ryan MacDougall once again found a way to save his best for last.

MacDougall laced a tie-breaking three-run triple in the fourth to give the Tigers their first lead while Brady Morin fired 4.1 key innings of relief as Taunton earned a spot in the Div. 1 state title game in an 10-6 win over No. 6 St John’s Shrewsbury on Tuesday night at Holy Cross.

The defending champion Tigers (20-4) will make their third state final appearance in four years.

“Our guys just enjoy playing the game,” Taunton coach Blair Bourque said. “I don’t think anyone plays these games to win state championships. We play for our teammates, ourselves, our family, and our community. I’ve just incredibly proud of what these guys have accomplished so far.”

St. John’s held a tenuous 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third, but a MacDougall’s two-out RBI single to center evened the score.

One inning later, the Dayton signee who lifted Taunton to the state championship a year ago with a tie-breaking home run in the final versus Franklin, delivered again with the game-changing hit.

With the bases loaded, two outs, and a full count MacDougall, blasted a bases clearing triple to right to put Taunton in front 6-3. A wild pitch moments later brought home MacDougall to put the Tigers up 7-3.

“We had to battle back and our pitching staff did an amazing job,” MacDougall said. “We compete well. We just manage to get the job done and put up runs when we have to.”

Morin meanwhile was efficient in relief. The right hander escaped a jam in the third, held the Pioneers scoreless in the fourth and fifth, and allowing just a lone run in the sixth.

Ahead 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Taunton star Dawson Bryce put on the exclamation point launching a two-run blast to left to give the Tigers a 10-4 advantage.

“Ryan is a clutch player who has been hard on himself all year,” Bourque said. “He’s had some good games and some tough plays but it shows his tenacity.”

St. John’s jumped out of the gate as James Benestad blasted a leadoff home run on the second pitch of the game to put the Pioneers up 1-0. Later in the inning the visitors stretched their lead as Noah Basgaard connected on an RBI groundout before Brady Collins singled to make it 3-0 St. John’s.