BAR HARBOR — In a win-or-go-home battle, Andy Pooler needed a big game from one of his starting pitchers.
Pooler, head coach of the Mount Desert Island baseball team, knew going into Tuesday’s opening-round playoff game against Maine Central Institute that his team was in for a dogfight. Up against one of the region’s top pitchers, Joseph Curtis, runs were likely to be at a premium on a hot afternoon in Bar Harbor.
“He’s a great pitcher,” Pooler said. “He racks up a ton of strikeouts, and sometimes, he’s only going to need one or two runs to beat you.”
The pressure, then, was on Sam Mitchell — and with the season on the line, the senior pitcher didn’t let his team down.
Mitchell pitched a complete-game shutout Tuesday to lead the MDI baseball team to a 2-0 victory over MCI. The senior struck out seven batters, walked just one and scattered six hits as the Trojans advanced to the Class B North quarterfinals.
Mitchell made quick work of 12th-ranked MCI (5-11) in the top of the first inning as he struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 inning. MDI then took an early lead as a double from Quentin Pileggi and an RBI single from Porter Isaacs put the Trojans up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
Curtis kept pressure on fifth-ranked MDI (10-7) over the next several innings as he racked up strikeout after strikeout and kept the Trojans off the base paths. Although the Huskies were able to put runners in scoring position on a few occasions, Mitchell emerged unscathed thanks to a few clutch strikeouts of his own and some strong defensive plays in the field.
“It was a team effort,” Mitchell said. “I have some great teammates behind me, and they were performing really well and making plays. I owe it all to them, for sure.”
Curtis continued to keep MCI within striking distance in the late innings as he kept the Trojans hitless in the fourth, fifth and sixth, but MDI squeezed out a run in the latter following a walk, some heads-up baserunning and a sacrifice fly. Mitchell then closed out the game in the seventh to book his team a berth in the next round.
The win was the fourth of the season for Mitchell, who lowered his ERA to 1.74 with the win. The Trojans got a single from Jay Haney in addition to the hits by Pileggi and Isaacs. Curtis finished with 10 strikeouts for MCI.
Next door on the softball diamond, MDI’s season came to an end with an 11-7 defeat against 10th-ranked John Bapst (7-6). The Trojans (8-8) mounted a rally to cut an 8-2 deficit to 8-7 in the sixth inning, but the visitors added three runs in the top of the seventh and kept MDI at bay in the bottom half to escape with a win.
The MDI baseball team will host No. 13 Nokomis (6-11), which upset fourth-ranked Belfast in Tuesday’s opening-round game, at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 10. The winner will face either No. 1 Old Town (12-4) or No. 8 Hermon (9-8) in Saturday’s semifinals.