BREWER, Maine — Bucksport High School’s Katelin Saunders and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln’s Haley McLaughlin are good friends. They work with pitching guru Bob Mercer on Sundays.

The impressive sophomores squared off for the Class C North championship on Tuesday and Saunders won the duel 3-1 to give the defending state champion Bucks their fourth regional title in five years.

The 18-1 Golden Bucks, who have won eight straight, will play Madison for the state title at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s College after the top-ranked Bulldogs beat No. 6 Lisbon 12-0 in the South final.

Mattanawcook Academy wound up 15-4 and had its 11-game winning streak snapped.

The hard-throwing Saunders had a much easier time as she tossed a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts and no walks. She had a perfect game through five innings and wound up throwing just 73 pitches of which 52 were strikes.

McLaughlin was in trouble in every inning but the fifth and continually made clutch pitches to work her way out of jams.

However, after escaping bases-loaded jams in the first two innings, Bucksport junior second baseman Emily Hunt came through with a bases-loaded single with two outs in the third inning which wound up delivering two runs as the left fielder booted the ball to allow a second run to score.

Senior Julia Zavalza launched a solo homer in the sixth inning to give the Bucks a valuable insurance run after the Lynx had scored their run in the top of the sixth on Kim Voisine’s bloop single into right and Cheyanne Libby’s long two-out double over left fielder Madysen Robichaud’s head.

“Everything was working today,” said Saunders, who is now 12-0. “I just had to attack them right from the start. I felt awesome.”

Saunders featured a live fastball, a changeup and a curve.

“Her pitches broke pretty hard and we couldn’t get ahold of them. She deserved what she got,” said MA senior center fielder Camryn Lyons.

“She threw a lot of rise balls. She threw very well. She threw hard and she knew our weakness was the high pitches,” said McLaughlin.

“It’s not really a rise ball but it breaks that way,” said Bucksport catcher MaKenzie Smith.

McLaughlin got the first two outs of the first four innings before loading the bases in each inning.

She nearly retired the side in order in the third but Kaylee Grindle barely legged out a slow roller to third for an infield single. Smith and Madysen Robichaud walked and, after falling behind in the count 0-2, Hunt lined her opposite-field single into left.

“She was pitching me on the outside corner so I scooted up on the plate [so I could reach it],” said Hunt.

“It was a good pitch. It was a strike but she stepped to the ball and hit it well,” said McLaughlin.

“I always like having a number one hitter in the ninth spot,” said Bucksport coach Mike Carrier. “Emily is a great contact hitter. She can bunt and drag bunt and she’s quick. They have a hard job getting her out.”

Zavalza’s homer in the sixth was her second of the year and cleared the fence in left center field. She hit a changeup.

“I was just looking to get a hit. I didn’t think it would carry like it did,” said Zavalza.

McLaughlin scattered eight hits with five strikeouts and five walks. She also hit a batter.

She threw 123 pitches of which 77 were strikes.

“She’s a very good pitcher. She’s very talented,” said Bucksport’s Smith.

Zavalza had a single to go with her homer, Tyler Dupont doubled and singled and Hunt had two singles for the Bucks.

“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively and when we did, they made the plays,” said MA coach Dean Libbey. “[Saunders] pitched very well.”