BAR HARBOR, Maine — Injuries have hit the Ellsworth High School baseball team hard this spring, particularly the loss of senior pitcher Thomas Sawyer to a dislocated knee even before the Eagles played their first game.
Classmate Kyle Haslam is determined to spark a second-half surge by coach Mike Boles’ club and did so by example Saturday, pitching a one-hitter while his teammates scratched out single runs in their final two at-bats as Ellsworth edged rival Mount Desert Island 2-1 in a Penobscot Valley Conference Class B match-up.
The Eagles are now 4-5, while MDI falls to 4-3.
Coming off a nine-inning complete-game victory over Foxcroft Academy in his last previous start, Haslam required 96 pitches — 58 for strikes — to outduel MDI freshman Tom Paola.
Haslam struck out eight, walked three and retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced — nine on ground balls.
“My arm’s been hurting me for most of the season, until last week when we had a doubleheader against Foxcroft and I pitched nine innings, 120 pitches,” said Haslam. “Ever since then it’s felt great. My curveball’s been working, my slider’s been working and my fastball’s had some velocity on it.
I just try to find batters’ weaknesses, whether it’s the outside corner or fast speeds or off speeds, and go at ’em.”
Cam Crawford got the only MDI hit, a sharp one-hopper back to the mound that deflected off Haslam’s glove and dribbled toward third base leading off the bottom of the third inning.
“It hit right off the tip of my glove, I should have had it,” said Haslam, who otherwise cleanly fielded two other comebackers, a line drive and a bunt. “I was frustrated with myself but I’ve been trying not to let things like that get to me. If we have an error in the field, I try not to let it get to me and just keep throwing.”
Crawford stole second and reached third base on a wild pitch as Jon Phelps walked before Crawford scored as Caleb MacDonald reached on an infield error to give MDI a 1-0 lead.
But MDI stranded both Phelps and MacDonald in scoring position, then Haslam limited the Trojans to one more baserunner over the final four innings.
“We had a couple of good chances with the middle of our order up,” said MDI coach Mike Swanson, “but we didn’t get a big hit. That’s the bottom line.”
Haslam needed to be that stellar to keep pace with Paola, a right-hander making his first varsity pitching start.
Paola kept Ellsworth’s batters off balance with a mix of fastballs, breaking pitches and accuracy. He finished his 6⅓ innings of work with three strikeouts and no walks and went to a three-ball count just twice while throwing 80 pitches, 54 for strikes.
“Tom had pitched a couple of innings in relief before and done a good job,” said Swanson. “This was the first time we couldn’t pitch either Ben [Walls] or Steve [Hanscome] so he got the start and went out and pitched great.”
Ellsworth tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the sixth after its first two batters had both grounded out to MDI shortstop Nick Shaw.
Riley Dewitt then softly grounded an infield single to short, went to second on a throwing error on the play and scored when Shaw could not handle a knuckling line drive by Brandon Braley.
Braley advanced to second base on the play, but Phelps threw him out from left field for the final out of the inning when he tried to score on a single by Dustin Smelley.
David Barnard opened the Ellsworth seventh with an infield hit before being forced out at second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Cody Del Conte. Conor Maguire doubled to deep right field to advance Del Conte to third, and Del Beckwith followed with a line single to center over MDI’s drawn-in infield to drive home the go-ahead run.
“The last two at-bats he threw me a low curveball on the first pitch, both strikes,” said Beckwith, a senior outfielder. “I came up the third time and took advantage of that. It was the same pitch, and I went with it.”
Smelley had a double and two singles to lead Ellsworth’s nine-hit offense, while Dewitt singled twice.