ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth baseball team came into 2018 with high expectations. So far this season, the Eagles have done well to meet them.
The team’s streak of five straight shutout wins is over, but as Ellsworth has shown lately, this is a squad capable of winning in more ways than one. In their latest encounter, consistency at the plate guided the Eagles to another victory.
Ellsworth extended its winning streak to seven games Friday with a 14-4 home victory over Belfast. The six-inning win sent the Eagles to third place in Class B North as the final stretch of the regular season approaches.
Conner Wagstaff got the start for Ellsworth in search of his third straight shutout, and the junior staff ace looked good for the Eagles early. Wagstaff didn’t allow a hit over the first two innings, and Sam Horne drove in four RBIs on two hits as the home team took a 5-0 lead.
“It was a good day for me,” Horne said. “My teammates got on base and put me in a good spot to succeed. If that doesn’t happen, I can’t knock in any runs.”
Wagstaff, though, ran into a bit of trouble in the third and fourth innings. Belfast smacked three straight hits in the third to cut Ellsworth’s lead to 5-2 and forced Wagstaff to get out of a difficult spot in the fourth when it put runners on second and third with only one out.
Yet Wagstaff would get out of the jam with two strikeouts to end the top of the inning, and Ellsworth took advantage in a big way in the bottom half. Doubles by Horne and Matt Burnett highlighted a five-run fourth for Ellsworth, which batted around to take a 10-2 lead.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today compared to some of my other games, but the team got some nice hits all game long to give me some run support,” Wagstaff said. “It’s easier for you out there when you have breathing room and can relax and settle in.”
Wagstaff would give up two more runs in the top of the fifth, but that was all the Lions would get. Ellsworth made the score 11-4 when Jack Lee’s infield single scored Jackson Curtis in the bottom of the inning, and the Eagles walked it off with three runs in the sixth to put the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
Horne led the way for the Eagles at the plate on the day with three hits, five RBIs and two runs scored. Burnett had two doubles, four RBIs and a run for Ellsworth (9-1), and Jared Hamilton added two hits, an RBI, four runs scored and a stolen base.
Wagstaff struck out 10 batters in 4 2/3 innings of work for Ellsworth to improve his record to 4-0 on the season. Senior Brad Smith pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to secure the win over the Lions (5-5).
With the win, the Eagles have now outscored their opponents 67-5 since a 5-4 loss to Mount Desert Island on April 24 in Bar Harbor. That heartbreaking loss in extra innings has served to motivate the Eagles, who have been relentless in all facets of the game in the weeks since the defeat.
“We didn’t play poorly [against MDI], but we didn’t play as well as we felt we should have,” Ellsworth head coach Dan Curtis said. “The pitchers really responded with those five straight shutouts and the solid game at John Bapst, and then we went out today and did something we really needed to do, which was to erupt offensively.”
Ellsworth’s next game will be against two-time defending Class B North champion Old Town (6-3) on the road at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15. The Eagles will continue a tough week of games when they face first-place Brewer on the road at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17, before concluding it with a home rematch against Old Town at noon Saturday, May 19.
“It’s not going to get any easier from here on out for us,” Curtis said. “It’s going to take more great pitching, timely hitting and error-free baseball. That’s a lot to ask in high school, but I think we’re capable of doing it.”