OLD TOWN — The Mount Desert Island baseball team fought until the very end.
MDI closed out the 2021 season last week with thrilling playoff games against Nokomis and Old Town. The Trojans prevailed in an 11-inning thriller in last Thursday’s quarterfinal game against the Warriors before falling to Old Town on Saturday in the Class B North semifinals.
Last Thursday, fifth-ranked MDI earned a 7-6 win over Nokomis in an extra-inning game in Bar Harbor. The win came as the Trojans staged a rally in the 10th inning to stave off defeat before walking off in the 11th to reach the regional semis for the first time in eight years.
“That was a wild one,” MDI head coach Andy Pooler said. “It was such a phenomenal, fun game to be a part of. It went back and forth; we were up for a bit, then they came back, then we had to come back to win it. It felt like a championship game a little bit.”
MDI took a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning before 11th-ranked Nokomis scored three runs to narrow the lead. The upset-minded Warriors then tied the game in the top of the seventh before the Trojans came up empty in the bottom half to send the game to extras.
After scoreless eighth and ninth innings, Nokomis (6-12) sent MDI to the brink of elimination in the 10th as it took a 6-4 lead. Yet the Trojans, down to their last strike, answered with back-to-back RBI doubles from Brady Renault and Stevie Gilbert tied the game and forced another frame.
MDI pitcher Jay Haney escaped a jam in the top of the 11th to give the Trojans a chance to win it in the bottom of the inning. Pooler’s team did exactly that as Quentin Pileggi scored on an error to give MDI a thrilling quarterfinal win.
“It was one of those plays where the ball just stayed alive,” Pooler said. “Logan laid down a great bunt, and the throw went into right field, and we just kept sending Pileggi until he scored the winning run. It was one of those games where I wish it was on tape so we could go back and experience it again because it was such a fun one.”
Pileggi led the way for MDI offensively as he went 4 of 6 with a double in addition to his winning run. The Trojans also got three singles from Porter Isaacs, a triple from Logan Beckwith and a single from Grady Wellman-Webster along with the 10th-inning doubles from Renault and Gilbert.
Pileggi also started on the mound for MDI and earned a quality start as he struck out eight batters, walked just one and conceded three earned runs. Haney, who relieved Pileggi after eight innings, got the win as he struck out three batters and allowed two runs on four hits in four innings of work.
On Saturday, MDI fell to a 7-6 road defeat against top-ranked Old Town in the Class B North semifinals. The Trojans led the game 5-1 at one point but could not stave off a furious comeback from the Coyotes, who advanced to Wednesday’s regional final.
Four of MDI’s runs came in the top of the fourth inning as Stevie Gilbert, Aiden Grant, Jay Haney and Quentin Pileggi knocked RBI singles to put the Trojans up 4-1. Sam Mitchell then added an RBI single in the third to give the Trojans (11-8) a four-run lead.
Old Town (14-4) fought back with three runs in the third inning and another in the fifth to tie the game at 5. After Renault scored on an error in the top of the seventh, the Coyotes came through with a bases-loaded walk and a single in the bottom of the frame to steal the win.
Wellman-Webster led MDI offensively with two hits in the loss. The Trojans also got a double from Isaacs and singles from Grant, Gilbert, Mitchell, Pileggi and Renault. Mitchell struck out five batters in 6 1/3 innings pitched for MDI, and Isaacs pitched the final 1/3 of the seventh before Old Town ended the game with the walk-off victory.
The loss was MDI’s third against Old Town in as many games this season. The Trojans fell 6-0 to the Coyotes on May 1 in Bar Harbor before falling just short in a 4-3 defeat May 15 at Old Town High School.
Often times, teams can suffer a letdown after emotional victories such as the one MDI pulled off against Nokomis last Thursday. Even though the Trojans didn’t come away with the victory in Saturday’s semifinal contest, they showed no signs of being emotionally drained.
“After you have a game like we did in the Nokomis game, you wonder a little bit if the magic is going to run out,” Pooler said. “When we responded with those four runs, that was a sign that we had still had something in us. [Old Town] just had one more hit than us, and that was the difference.”
The game was the last for MDI seniors Beckwith, Gilbert, Isaacs, Mitchell, Renault, Wellman-Webster and Andrew Clark. The leadership of those seven players, Pooler said, was vital in a season that was far from assured when it began.
“Those seven guys are what the game is supposed to be about,” Pooler said. “They led for us, and they got to be themselves and have a lot of fun. Seeing those guys come through for us, enjoy the season the way they did, was great. They all had career years.”