ELLSWORTH — Thomas Sawyer got the best of an early-season pitchers’ duel Wednesday afternoon, tossing a two-hit shutout as Ellsworth defeated Hermon 5-0 in a Class B baseball matchup.
Sawyer struck out four batters and walked just two while subduing a Hermon lineup that had scored 34 runs in its first three games of the season — all victories. The righthander was backed by a defense that committed just one error, led by freshman shortstop Brandon Braley, who started a double play and fielded several other grounders flawlessly.
“The defense really stepped up today,” said Sawyer. “We’ve been working on a lot of situational stuff trying to work on our fielding, and it showed today.”
Sawyer needed to be effective for Ellsworth to overcome the work of Hermon lefthander Greg Hamlin, who gave the Hawks a quality start of his own by allowing three runs on six hits through five innings.
“They put up a lot of runs against Mattanawcook [Academy of Lincoln] and Caribou so I knew I had to be prepared for this game,” said Sawyer, who has both of his team’s pitching wins in Ellsworth’s 2-0 start this spring.
Ellsworth nursed a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth, when Jordan Carter and Tyler Palmer hit back-to-back, one-out singles and Sawyer then walked to load the bases.
That brought up designated hitter Josh Fowler, who worked the count to 2-2 before grounding a single just past diving Hermon second baseman Jared Cox and through a drawn-in infield. It drove home Carter and pinch-runner Bobby Box to give the Eagles a three-run cushion.
“That was a good piece of hitting by Josh with two strikes to get his bat on the ball,” said Ellsworth coach Dana Smith.
Ellsworth padded its lead in the sixth when Sawyer delivered a two-out, two-run single off Hermon reliever Cody Veilleux after the Eagles had loaded the bases on two walks and a single by Carter.
“We just had to get our bats going,” said Sawyer. “It took a little while for it to happen but we did.”
Ellsworth scored the game’s first run in the third when Cote Card hit a leadoff double to deep left field, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Carter’s sacrifice fly to right.
Carter, the Eagles’ senior catcher, was the game’s lone repeat hitter with two singles to go with his sacrifice fly, along with an RBI and two runs scored. Card also scored twice for Ellsworth.
Hermon managed just a leadoff single to right in the top of the first by Reid McGinley and a leadoff single to left in the third inning by Hamlin.
“It was a great ballgame,” said Hermon coach Doug McGinley. “We just didn’t come up with that timely hit. We had a couple of guys at second base and we couldn’t get them in, and they had a couple of timely hits and scored a few runs off them.
“We put the ball in play and they made the plays. They were fundamentally sound.”