ELLSWORTH, Maine — A cool ocean breeze blowing in on the hitters virtually ensured a pitchers’ duel when Ellsworth hosted Bucksport in a key Class B baseball battle Tuesday.
But neither Pat Kelley nor Tim Nason needed the extra advantage.
Kelley got the best of the matchup, tossing a two-hitter while Ellsworth scratched out an unearned run to gain a 1-0 win and avenge an 11-6 loss to the Golden Bucks on April 30.
The victory improves the Eagles to 9-2 heading into Wednesday’s game against 6-6 Foxcroft. Bucksport, ranked second in Eastern B compared to seventh for Ellsworth starting the week, is 8-3.
“Typical Ellsworth day,” said Ellsworth coach Dana Smith, “wind blowing straight in and two good pitchers on the mound with pretty good defenses behind them, so it adds up to a low scorer.”
Kelley struck out seven and walked three while throwing 98 pitches, 66 for strikes.
The senior righthander faced just two jams, a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the second inning and two-on, two-out threat in the seventh.
“He’s been doing it here for four years, and he’s been in these situations before so he’s quite cool under pressure,” said Smith.
“He throws strikes generally though he got a little wild in the last inning, but we have a certain comfort when we’re playing behind him. You can see it in our infielders because they know they’re going to get the ball put in play and that he’s going to be around the plate.”
While Ellsworth’s defense was comfortable behind its pitcher, Bucksport’s batters never could get comfortable at the plate as Kelley mixed his fastball and changeup, particularly early in the count.
“They’re good fastball hitters,” said Kelley, “so you’ve got stay away from that as much as you can, work the corners and throw junk which is what I had to do to stay away from their power.”
Kelley needed to be at his best because Nason was nearly as frugal, throwing just 89 pitches while allowing five singles, striking out five and walking two over six innings.
“I took pretty much the same approach I always do,” said Nason. “I try to keep it low and outside, make them pound it into the ground and mix in the curve to keep them guessing.”
Ellsworth scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the second. Adam Kaspala lined a one-out single to right but was forced out on a comebacker to Nason by Jordan Carter.
Carter went to second on a balk and stole third as Seth Cote walked. Dakota Jewett then hit a slow chopper up the third-base line, and an errant throw to first allowed Jewett to reach base and Carter to score.
That came just after Bucksport threatened in the top of the inning. Jordan Trasko, who had both of Bucksport’s hits, hit a one-out, opposite-field single to right. Nason then walked, and a two-out walk to Mike Bridges loaded the bases before Kelley struck out Cody Farrell to end the inning.
The Golden Bucks threatened again in the seventh, as Trasko reached on an infield hit to the shortstop hole and was sacrificed to second by Nason to put a runner in scoring position with one out.
But Kelley reached back to strike out Cam Wentworth and, after Bridges walked, Ellsworth shortstop Brad Folmer charged in to throw out Farrell on a slow grounder up the middle to end the game.
“I was a little fatigued but I just had to battle,” said Kelley. “I know Jordan’s going to call the right game no matter what, and Brad making that last play was huge.”