ELLSWORTH — There’s been little to choose among the top Penobscot Valley Conference teams in Eastern Maine Class B during the first half of the high school baseball season.
Among the clubs emerging as a long-range threat within the division is Mount Desert Island, which followed up Friday’s 2-1 victory over top-ranked Bucksport with a 7-1 win over Ellsworth on Saturday.
The sweep of Hancock County rivals extended the Trojans’ winning streak to six games, including four decided in the final inning.
“These wins are huge,” said MDI coach Mike Swanson. “The win over Bucksport was obviously big because they’re in first place and worth a lot of points, and Ellsworth’s going to win a lot of games and they’re worth a lot of points, too, so that’s going to help us jump up in the standings.”
MDI righthander Dennis O’Neil limited Ellsworth to one hit over the final five innings as the Trojans improved their record to 7-2.
O’Neil was touched up for a run and five hits in the first two innings, but allowed just one Ellsworth runner as far as third base after that while he and his teammates generated four unearned runs in a game they never trailed.
“I only had three days rest and was a little weak to start, but I started building confidence when everybody started making plays behind me and we started scoring runs,” said O’Neil. “It felt good, and I just kept throwing it in there.”
O’Neil was backed by an errorless defense, one day after MDI committed just one error in its victory over Bucksport. The Trojans cut down a runner at the plate in the first inning to prevent Ellsworth from getting off to a fast start, caught another runner off third base an inning later, and shortstop Nick Shaw handled eight ground balls flawlessly.
“We’ve been good on defense,” said Shaw. “Personally I’ve struggled a little bit, but I’m getting my confidence up and making plays.”
The Trojans weren’t an overwhelming offensive presence, with just five hits off Ellsworth righthander Thomas Sawyer. But MDI capitalized on three sacrifice flies, a sacrifice bunt, a steal of home and six Ellsworth errors to pull away.
“As of late we’ve been struggling with getting timely hits and hits in a row,” said MDI first baseman Kyle McKim, “but once we got going today, we hit the ground running.”
MDI manufactured a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when K.J. Bailey was hit by a pitch, went to second on a walk to Cole McEnroe and to third on a sacrifice by Duncan Smith before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Cam Crawford.
Ellsworth (5-2) tied the game in the bottom of the inning as Kyle Haslam singled to left-center and came around to score on a two-out infield hit by Andrew Austin.
MDI took the lead for good in the top of the third. Shaw singled to center, went to second as Caleb MacDonald reached on an error and to third on a wild pitch. O’Neil plated Shaw with a grounder to third base, and an errant throw also enabled MacDonald to score and give the Trojans a 3-1 edge.
Crawford grounded a one-out single to left to ignite another two-run rally by MDI in the fourth. Gordon Falt and Shaw each walked to load the bases before MacDonald drove home Crawford with a sacrifice fly. Ben Walls then singled to put runners on first and third, and when Walls attempted to steal second base, Falt stole home.
MDI added its final runs in the seventh on three Ellsworth errors, a double by MacDonald and a sacrifice fly by O’Neil.,
O’Neil finished with a complete-game six-hitter with three strikeouts and two walks. Sawyer also pitched a complete game, allowing three earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts, four walks and a hit batsman.
Austin and Ellsworth teammate Delbert Beckwith were the game’s lone repeat hitters, each with two singles.