ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Ellsworth baseball team has had little to frown about this spring.
But a 7-6 loss at Hermon on April 27 had nagged the Eagles because they led by five runs late in the game before the Hawks rallied to win in extra innings.
The rematch came Saturday afternoon, and this time Ellsworth made sure there was no late-game collapse by ending the game early, topping Hermon 10-0 in five innings.
“We were just trying to get back at them and show them that we’re a better team,” said Ellsworth senior outfielder Ross Saunders, whose single in the bottom of the fifth drove home Brad Folmer with the run that ended the contest under the 10-run rule.
The win was the eighth straight for coach Dana Smith’s club, now 9-2 and ranked third in Eastern Maine Class B behind top-ranked Waterville and No. 2 Presque Isle.
“As of late we’ve really turned it around,” said senior righthander John Carlin, who pitched a three-hit shutout against Hermon to improve his season’s record to 3-0. “We got off to a slow start and we took some time to find ourselves a little bit as a team, but we’re coming together.
Pitching has been a focal point of the team’s success, with Carlin, Andrew Hodge and Thomas Sawyer among the chief contributors.
But offense has been equally important. During the Eagles’ current winning streak, they have averaged a robust 10.1 runs per game, and little was different Saturday as Ellsworth combined a nine-hit attack with three Hermon errors that led to four unearned runs.
That offense faced the additional challenge of a fairly stiff breeze blowing in on the batters, but the Eagles largely were able to limit their popups, with just three outs coming on balls hit in the air.
“Mostly you just focus on keeping the ball down, hitting line drives instead of popups that will just blow back in,” said Saunders. “Keep ‘em down, and hit ‘em hard.”
Saunders and Folmer each had two singles for Ellsworth in a game that included no extra-base hits, while Folmer, Cote Card and Seth Cote each scored twice for the Eagles.
Braddock Deabay singled twice for 3-10 Hermon. but Carlin shut down virtually everyone else in the Hawks’ lineup, save for a second-inning single by Jesse Graffam.
Carlin escaped a two-out, two-on jam in the top of the first, then allowed no other Hermon runner beyond first base while striking out seven batters and walking two.
“We threw mostly fastballs today because they were working great,” said Ellsworth catcher Jordan Carter. “The wind might have had something to do with it, but we went with the fastball and mixed in some curveballs and it worked out great.”
Ellsworth broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the second. Tyler Palmer drove home a run with an infield hit off Hermon starter Cody Veilleux and Folmer later hit an RBI single to left, but three infield errors by Hermon also proved damaging.
Sawyer had an RBI single in the third, and a run-scoring single by Andrew Austin followed by a bases- loaded walk to Palmer in the fourth made it 9-0.
Folmer then singled to lead off the Ellsworth fifth and went to second on a walk to Card before scoring the game-ending run when Saunders pulled a single to right.
“We’re really starting to play well,” said Saunders. “We can go a long way if we keep playing to our potential.”