Mount Desert Island High School senior Nick Stanley waits for the pitch during the first day of tryouts. Stanley is entering his fourth season with the MDI varsity team. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Baseball team set to build on 2017 run

BAR HARBOR — The snow has yet to fully melt from last week’s winter storm, but inside Mount Desert Island High School, the sight of baseballs, gloves and bats Monday served as a welcome reminder that spring sports season is here.

With less than three weeks to go until the start of the regular season, the MDI baseball team is preparing for what hopes to be a promising year for the program.

The situation is similar to what MDI boys’ teams faced in other sports this year: the Trojans lost some key players from last year, but the team should have enough talent in enough places to be at the top of the Penobscot Valley Conference.

“We have the benefit of having a lot of kids this year,” MDI Head Coach Andy Pooler said. “Even when you consider what we’ve lost, I think it’s a deep team with a lot of quality players.”

Gone are Seth Clark, MDI’s top pitcher last year with 48 strikeouts and an earned run average of 1.90 in the regular season, and Drew Shea, who finished tied for fifth in the league in doubles (four) and first in triples (two). All-PVC selection Riley Swanson also has departed, as have Aaron Snurkowski, Mac Shea and Ezra Johnson.

Yet the majority of MDI’s position starters are returning, and the Trojans also bring back one of the PVC’s top pitchers in senior Matt Perconti. With that in mind, Trojans have a chance to improve on last year’s 11-7 finish and Class B North quarterfinal appearance.

When the 2017 season started, MDI stumbled out of the gate. The team started the year 2-5 with a pair of losses against Foxcroft and defeats against Old Town, John Bapst and Ellsworth, the latter of which shut out the Trojans 10-0 in Bar Harbor.

Despite the less-than-ideal start, MDI didn’t make any significant changes to its approach. That proved to be a wise decision for the Trojans, who won their next eight games to hit the 10-win mark and roll into the playoffs.

“We just kept at it, and we got on a roll,” senior James McConomy said. “Even when we were losing to start the year, basically all of those games were by one or two runs other than the Ellsworth game. We just had to stick with it, and that’s what we did.”

The win streak culminated with the team getting revenge against Ellsworth with an 8-1 victory in the rematch. It ended the following game with a loss to eventual regional champion Old Town, but the Trojans were still able to add a playoff win against Oceanside before falling to Northern Maine runner-up Erskine Academy.

The difference came in MDI’s newfound offense. Whereas the Trojans had failed to score more than four runs in a game during the first half of the season, they did so six times in eight games in the latter half of May.

“At the beginning of last year, we were always talking about how we didn’t have enough runs,” Perconti said. “By the end of the year, we turned it around and had a very good team at the plate. I think that’s going to carry over into this year, and we’ll be able to score even more.”

MDI also has the benefit of playing nine home games and seven road games this year instead of eight each. That discrepancy is because the Trojans did not schedule a road doubleheader with Presque Isle this year.

The team is scheduled to open its regular season at home against Belfast on Thursday, April 17, at 4 p.m. After a long winter, that game will be a welcome change of scenery for MDI players, coaches and fans.

“We’ve spent six days in the gym here, and I’m already sick of being inside,” Perconti said. “We’re raring to get out there and start actually playing.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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