ELLSWORTH, Maine — Ellsworth High School junior second baseman Shelby Cote surprised herself twice in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s Class B North preliminary game against Nokomis HIgh of Newport and her teammates are glad she did.
Cote saved at least one run, if not two, in the top of the fifth with a diving snare of a vicious line drive and she doubled home the tying run in a six-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to lead the Eagles to a wild 14-12 victory.
The 11-6 Eagles, the eighth seed, will travel to take on top seed Gardiner, 15-1, in a Thursday quarterfinal. Ninth seed Nokomis finished at 8-9.
The two teams combined for 30 hits during the entertaining affair and Ellsworth overcame an 8-4 deficit by scoring 10 unanswered runs.
The Warriors rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh but sophomore Mackenzie Chipman struck out the final hitter with the tying runs on base to pick up the complete-game victory.
Nokomis had scored two runs in the top of the fifth to build its lead to 8-4 and had two runners on and two outs when Aren Herrick scalded a line drive to the right of Cote, who fully extended herself to make the catch.
“That was a very scary play. I didn’t think I could get to it but I dove and I caught it,” said Cote.
Ellsworth took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth.
Trinity Montigny reached on a bunt single and Katelynn Bagley was credited with a single when her soft sinking liner fell out of the glove of the onrushing left fielder.
Hannah Sargent walked to load the bases and Mariah Young hit a sacrifice fly to score Montigny. Following a wild pitch, Callie Hammer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-6.
Katie Hammer, Callie’s sister, worked a walk after her potential inning-ending foul pop-up was misplayed.
Katie Hammer broke for second base and a run scored when a throw was made to second.
Cote then belted her RBI double to left center to tie it.
“That was unexpected, too. I haven’t hit well this year. That was very exciting for me,” said Cote.
Ellie Clarke hit a double over the right fielder’s head to drive in Cole and Leah Stevens plated the final run when she slapped a soft liner that glanced off the shortstop’s glove.
Ellsworth tacked on four more in the sixth as Sargent, Young, the Hammer sisters and Clarke all had base hits and a throwing error enabled another run to score.
The Eagles made another important defensive play in the seventh to help secure the win.
The determined Warriors loaded the bases with nobody out on Hanna Meservey’s base hit, Chelsea Crockett’s double and a walk.
One out later, Herrick and Maci Leali produced run-scoring singles to make it 14-10 and Austin Leighton followed with a single to make it 14-11.
But the runner tried to score from second on Leighton’s hit and left fielder Katie Hammer threw a strike to sister Callie, the catcher, to nail the runner for the second out.
“I knew she would try to score. It was do-or-die for them,” said Katie Hammer. “I got it together in my glove, got my fingers on the seams and I made a good throw.”
Abby LaPrade singled in another run before Chipman got the game-ending strikeout.
“We thought we could come back. We’ve done it so many times in the past,” said Eagles junior third baseman Young, who doubled and singled and drove in two runs.
Stevens, Montigny, Bagley and Clarke all had two singles for Ellsworth.
Leali belted a solo homer and also had two singles for Nokomis. Herrick and Meservey had two doubles and a single apiece. Crockett doubled and singled and LaPrade singled twice.
“I expected the runs but I didn’t expect the errors,” said Nokomis coach J.D. McLellan. “If we had kept the errors to a minimum, it would have been an easy game to win. But both teams showed up [swinging] the bats. It was a lot of fun.”