BANGOR, Maine — Max Andrews looked like the David Ortiz of April through his first three at-bats as the John Bapst of Bangor designated hitter Thursday afternoon, striking out twice and popping out.
But given one final chance to make amends in the bottom of the seventh, Andrews made like the Ortiz of May, singling home the tying and winning runs as the Crusaders earned a 6-5 victory over Ellsworth in a Class B baseball game at the Winkin Complex on the campus of Husson University.
Matt Storgaard started the rally with a one-out single to center before Adam Ledbetter reached on an infield error. A balk by Ellsworth reliever Thomas Sawyer advanced the runners to second and third before Nick Christie walked to load the bases.
Ellsworth senior John Carlin took over on the mound, but Andrews grounded his first pitch through the drawn-in infield to right field, plating Storgaard and Ledbetter for a victory that may secure the Crusaders a postseason berth.
“I just wanted to hit the ball,” said Andrews. “I completely forgot about my last three at- bats, which were two strikouts and a popout. I just had to put that all behind me and focus on this at-bat and swing at what lookedgood.”
The win ended Ellsworth’s eight-game win streak, which included a 12-8 victory over John Bapst on May 11 in which the Eagles rallied from an 8-2 deficit with 10 runs after two were out in the sixth inning.
“Momentum’s such a huge thing in baseball,” said John Bapst righthander Chris Hammond, who pitched a complete-game six-hitter in the rematch. “They won that first game against us and it completely changed their season. I think we’ve got to look at this game as changing our season. We played unbelievably today.”
John Bapst (8-6) had lost five of eight games since a 4-1 start to begin the day owning the 10th and final playoff berth in Eastern B. The victory advanced the Crusaders to seventh with just a doubleheader left at 6-5 Caribou on Saturday.
“There’s a lot of different equations that can come into play, but we knew that getting a win today could set the tone for us,” said Bapst coach Shane Graham.
Ellsworth, which at 9-3 remains fourth in the division, held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 5-4 during the contest, only to have John Bapst rally each time.
The Crusaders took the only two-run lead of the game at 4-2 with a three-run fourth-inning rally that included just one ball hit out of the infield, an RBI single to left by No. 9 hitter Jason McBurnie. An infield hit by Sean O’Donnell also produced a run, and Bill Wetherbee walked with the bases loaded.
But Ellsworth scored a run in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by Jordan Carter, then took its final lead in the sixth when Brad Folmer pulled an RBI triple to right and then scored on an infield error.
Hammond, who struck out three batters and walked five, had one of his best innings in the seventh when he retired the Eagles in order to set up his team’s final comeback.
“My [coach] told me this was my game to win or lose all the way through,” said Hammond. “I felt like I needed to step up for this team and help stop the bleeding because we had been on a skid, but Maxxie came up with the big hit, [Wetherbee] caught a great game behind the plate and we had just one error. Everything went ideally.”
Carter and Folmer were the game’s lone repeat hitters, with Carter adding a triple and run scored in the top of the fourth to his fifth-inning single while Folmer tripled and singled, scored three runs and stole two bases.