OLD TOWN — High school baseball’s regular season runs through June 1, but for the Old Town Coyotes the fight to stay alive for postseason play is well under way.
Ranked 13th in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal point ratings entering Thursday’s games, Old Town parlayed its sense of urgency into a 14-hit attack that overwhelmed Mount Desert Island 15-5 in a Penobscot Valley Conference matchup.
The win moved 8-5 Old Town up one notch in the standings, yet the Coyotes are still 20 Heal points behind 10th-place Gardiner, which would be the final playoff qualifier if the postseason began today.
Old Town has three games remaining, including pointworthy matchups Friday and next Tuesday against third-ranked Bucksport and a Saturday night encounter against Class C Orono at Mahaney Diamond on the campus of the University of Maine.
“We said before the game that every game from here on out we have to treat like an Eastern Maine prelim,” said Old Town coach Dave Utterback. “We know we’ve kind of put ourselves in a hole by losing some close games in the first half of the year, and everybody above us is winning, too. We’re just trying to hang in there, get hot during this last stretch and scratch our way into it and see what we can do from there.”
No one was hotter on this afternoon than Old Town senior Casey Estes, who had four hits including a game-ending three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning .
The Husson University-bound pitcher-shortstop also doubled twice and singled, scored four runs and had five RBIs while earning the pitching save with 1 1-3 innings of hitless relief in support of starter Gabe Melmed.
“We’re playing every game like it’s our last game,” said Estes. “We know what we need to do, we know we need to win at least three of our last four games and we won this one. We’re playing good baseball now and hopefully it carries over to Bucksport [whom the Coyotes host Friday].
Cody Cross added two doubles, a single and three RBIs to Old Town’s 14-hit attack, while cleanup hitter Cameron Archer singled twice with three RBIs. No. 9 hitter Dan Gastia drove in three runs with a two-run double and a sacrifice fly, and Shane Nadeau singled twice and scored twice.
“We’ve won three in a row and we’ve been hitting the ball hard everywhere,” said Estes. “We’ve been having good practices, and it’s carried over into the games.”
Old Town needed to be at its offensive best to overcome an MDI attack that got at least one hit from every spot in its lineup. Ben Walls led the way with a double and a single while Cole McEnroe and Stephen Hanscom each singled twice.
The Trojans (10-4) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Duncan Smith walked and scored thanks to two errors and a wild pitch.
Archer singled home two runs for Old Town in the bottom of the first and added an RBI single in the second as the Coyotes scored three more runs to extend their lead to 5-1.
Back-to-back RBI doubles by Estes and Cross keyed a two-run fourth for Old Town, but MDI rallied within 7-5 by sending nine batters to the plate during a three-run fifth. Walls doubled home a run for the Trojans, while Cam Crawford and Nick Shaw each singled home a run before Estes came on to record the final out of the inning with the bases loaded.
Old Town pushed its lead to 11-5 with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, with Gastia and Cross each hitting a two-run double.
The Coyotes then used two walks, a single by Nadeau and a sacrifice fly by Gastia to set up Estes’ second home run of the spring, a blast beyond the center-field fence on an 0-1 fastball from Stephen Hanscome, MDI’s third pitcher of the day.