By Mark Haskell
BAR HARBOR — There is something about the baseball rivalry between Mount Desert Island and Ellsworth that seems to bring out the best in both clubs.
That longstanding rivalry between the Trojans and Eagles was renewed on the diamond on Friday, May 20, and did not disappoint as the regular-season high school game was in doubt until the final at-bat.
The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning before Ellsworth’s Miles Palmer scampered home with the game-winning run on a wild pitch, which gave the hosts a thrilling 2-1 walk-off win over the Trojans.
“When MDI and Ellsworth play, no matter who is in what place, they’re always big games,” said Ellsworth coach Dan Curtis. “Certainly coach [Matt] Haney has those boys ready to go, as do we, but it’s always fun to come out on top. We’ve come out on the other side of it plenty of times, but everyone plays hard and tends to play their best when we’re playing against one another.”
The teams combined for only seven hits as the Eagles (11-1), who are ranked first in Class B North, held a 4-3 edge in that department.
Hunter Curtis (two singles, run), Billy Garland (single), Michael Palmer (RBI) and Miles Palmer (single, run, stolen base) keyed the Eagles in victory, while the Trojans (5-6) were paced at the plate by A.J. Lozano (single, run, steal), Quentin Pileggi (single, steal) and Joey Wellman-Clouse (single).
Curtis and Lozano not only accounted for three of the game’s seven hits – and two of the game’s three runs – but also dueled on the mound as the hurlers worked the distance for their squads.
Curtis yielded three hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts on 73 pitches, while Lozano allowed four hits, two walks (one intentional) and one hit batter, with two strikeouts on 88 pitches.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third frame when Lozano ripped a one-out single, moved to second on a groundout and stole third base. In an attempt to throw him out, the ball sailed into the outfield and Lozano hustled home to put the visitors on the board.
Curtis allowed a single to Wellman-Clouse to start the top of the fourth inning but settled in and only allowed one base runner (by error) to reach the rest of the game as he retired 11 of the next 12 batters.
Coach Curtis said, “Our pitching has been our strength all season,” while adding “Lozano pitched great” in the losing effort for the Trojans.
“He [Lozano] mixed it up and kept us just enough off-balance and made the plays,” the coach said. “Basically, the difference in the game is we hit a few balls hard that took some erratic hops and next thing you knew it was over.”
In the sixth, the Eagles got a lead single from Curtis followed by sacrifice bunt by Brett Bragdon to move Curtis into scoring position.
After David Baugh reached on an error and Garland was later intentionally walked to put a force play at any base, Michael Palmer drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk to plate Curtis to tie the game.
In the seventh, Miles Palmer singled and stole second base, which prompted the Trojans to intentionally walk Curtis to again put the force play on at any base.
After Bragdon reached on an error to load the bases, Miles Palmer was able to come in after a wild pitched sailed to the backstop, which gave the host Eagles the walk-off win.