BAR HARBOR — After a long wait, opening day for the Mount Desert Island baseball team was twice as nice — in more ways than one.
Between offensive firepower, solid pitching and good defense, MDI put it all together Saturday in the team’s season-opening doubleheader against Presque Isle. The Trojans defeated the visiting Wildcats 9-4 in Game 1 and claimed an 11-0 win via the mercy rule in Game 2 to complete a sweep of both contests and start the year 2-0.
“It’s hard to ask for a better start,” MDI head coach Andy Pooler said. “A doubleheader to open the season is a tough way to start it, but we came out ready to play, and I think it showed.”
MDI opened the scoring in the second inning of Game 1 as a drive to left field by Brady Renault cleared the fence by a matter of inches for a solo home run. That marked the start of an offensive onslaught for the Trojans, who piled on five more runs over the next three innings and withstood a four-run fifth from Presque Isle to claim a victory.
Quentin Pileggi finished 2 for 4 with a home run, double and four RBIs for MDI in the win. Renault added a stolen base in addition to his solo home run for the Trojans, who also got an RBI double from Logan Blanchette and singles from Stevie Gilbert, Aiden Grant, Porter Isaacs and Sam Mitchell.
Mitchell got the win on the mound for MDI as he struck out seven batters and issued zero walks in six innings of work. Jay Haney appeared in the bottom of the seventh for the Trojans and retired the side in his first varsity appearance to close out Game 1.
“You always want to avoid walks, and that’s especially the case for us with the veteran pitching staff that we have,” Pooler said. “They had those four runs in that one inning, and that was just a case of them hitting the ball where we weren’t. If they’re hitting it, that’s fine; you can live with that a little bit more. We just don’t want to walk guys, and we avoided doing that.”
MDI was even more dominant in Game 2 as Renault finished 2 for 3 with a home run and a double. The Trojans also got two hits each from Beckwith and Isaacs and one apiece from Haney, Gilbert and Grady Wellman-Webster.
Whereas Renault’s Game 1 home run looked certain to stay in play before ultimately clearing the fence, his second of the day was a no-doubter. The senior was a starter and a regular contributor for MDI in the team’s most recent season two years ago, but he’s already stepped up his game even further in 2021.
“Brady has worked a lot to improve, and he had a strong preseason and a really good day Saturday,” Pooler said. “We’re an experienced team, and he’s one of seven seniors that we’re rolling out that are starting to do their thing and are a little more comfortable than they were a few years ago now that they’re veteran players.”
Pileggi, who led MDI with a 2.30 earned-run average in 2019, had a successful start on the mound as he struck out eight batters, walked one and allowed only three hits. Freshman Noah Keeley came on in relief in the fifth inning and closed out the game to deliver a mercy-rule win for Trojans.
In many cases, batters begin the season a bit behind pitching staffs before catching up later in the year. Although Pooler acknowledged that had been a concern of his going into Saturday, his team’s performance at the plate eased those concerns early.
“One thing we’ve focused a lot on is getting our offensive up to speed and finding ways to break out early in the year,” Pooler said. “We’re probably going to be behind the pitcher from game to game, but we knew having that strong start offensively and then getting the pitching and defense going was a great way to build confidence.”
On Tuesday, MDI fell to 2-1 on the season with a 2-0 loss to Bucksport (2-1) in Bar Harbor. Pileggi struck out eight batters, allowed just three hits and ripped a base hit at the plate for the Trojans, whose lone other hit came courtesy of Wellman-Webster.
MDI will play its first road game of the season when it faces Brewer at 6 p.m. on April 29 at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. The Trojans will then play road games at noon Saturday, May 1, against Old Town and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, against George Stevens Academy.