Ellsworth baseball team beats MDI to clinch No. 1 seed

first_img Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) ELLSWORTH — The stakes are always high when Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island play, but the latest meeting between the two on the baseball diamond had even more on the line.In the final game of the regular season Tuesday, the top-ranked Ellsworth Eagles took to their home field looking to add yet another win to their remarkable résumé. On the other side, the visiting Trojans had hopes of a season sweep in the series after giving Ellsworth its only loss of the year late last month.Fans of both teams lined the fences all the way from home plate to the left- and-right field foul poles, and with Senior Day proceedings for Ellsworth unfolding, the atmosphere was a festive one. In the end, that atmosphere proved to be a sign of things to come as the Eagles beat their biggest rival for their 13th straight win.Ellsworth topped MDI 8-3 on Tuesday to secure the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Northern Maine playoffs. The win was just the latest chapter in what has been a great 2018 season for Hancock County’s two Class B North schools, both of which could have deep playoff runs ahead of them.MDI’s Erik Merchant crosses home plate to score a run during the second inning of a high school baseball game against Ellsworth on May 29 at Ellsworth High School. Both teams will have home games in the upcoming Class B North playoffs. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLThis is placeholder textThis is placeholder text“Going into a big game like this with one team No. 1 and the other No. 2 is the way both these teams would want it,” Ellsworth head coach Dan Curtis said. “Both games this year, you saw that neither one of us ever gives in.”After the teams exchanged runs in the first inning, MDI took a 2-1 lead in the second when Liam Sullivan tripled to right field to score Erik Merchant. Ellsworth pitcher Matt Burnett was able to strand Sullivan at third with back-to-back strikeouts, but diving stops by MDI pitcher Matt Perconti and second baseman Nick Stanley in the bottom of the inning preserved the visitors’ lead.In the third inning, though, Ellsworth went ahead 4-2 after Sam Horne knocked in two runs with a base hit to right and Austin Baron laid down an RBI bunt single along the third-base line. MDI (11-5) put runners on second and third with only one out in the top of the fourth, but Burnett escaped another jam with consecutive strikeouts to keep the Eagles in front.“These boys have been under duress plenty of times this season, and I think one of the biggest things that happens as your team matures is that you just don’t panic anymore,” Curtis said. “When we got out of that first jam, we were in a good spot because we were only down a run. Once we did that, it was just a matter of making sure the bats got going and getting those few runs.”With Ellsworth (15-1) plating four more runs in the fourth inning to give itself added breathing room, the Eagles were well on their way to victory. Conner Wagstaff struck out five straight batters after coming on in relief, and a late MDI rally in the seventh earned the Trojans just one run before Wagstaff forced a ground ball for the game’s final out.Ellsworth’s Matt Burnett pitches during the fifth inning of a high school baseball game against MDI on May 29 at Ellsworth High School. Burnett earned his seventh win of the season for Ellsworth, which has now won 13 consecutive games since losing to the Trojans on April 24 in Bar Harbor. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLBurnett improved to 7-0 on the season for Ellsworth with eight strikeouts and added two hits at the plate. Horne and Brad Smith led the Eagles with three hits apiece.For MDI, Perconti struck out four batters before departing in the fifth inning for reliever Andrew Kennedy, who held the Eagles to one hit the rest of the way. Sam Keblinsky had a team-high two hits for the Trojans.The result also snapped a four-game winning streak for MDI. Depending on results elsewhere in the state tomorrow, May 30, the Trojans will play a home game in either the preliminary round or the regional quarterfinals.“We’ve got some things to work on, but we’ve done a really good job to get this far and get that home playoff game,” Pooler said. “We’ll see where we end up in the playoffs, and then it’s a brand-new season from there.”Earning revenge on the Trojans was a big step for Ellsworth, but the No. 1 seed was even more meaningful. The Eagles will be the home team throughout the regional playoffs as they seek their first state title since 1988.“Locking up No. 1, that’s the dream,” Burnett said. “That’s the biggest thing we needed to do today, and we got it done.” Latest Posts Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected] Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020center_img Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020 Biolast_img

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