Sports

Veteran Ellsworth baseball team shuts down Foxcroft

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — After a trip to the Class B North semifinals last year, a veteran Ellsworth High School baseball team again is showing the characteristics of a contender early this spring.

Coach Dan Curtis’ club rode the two-hit pitching of junior right-hander Conner Wagstaff and an offense that produced all of its runs with two outs to a 7-0 victory over Foxcroft Academy in a Penobscot Valley Conference matchup Saturday, April 28.

“We have a lot of seniors on this team and a lot of guys who can hit the ball hard and a lot of guys who can come up with timely hits, which is what we did today,” said Wagstaff, part of a 16-player Ellsworth roster dominated by nine seniors and six juniors.

The Eagles’ ace struck out eight, walked five and hit one during a 105-pitch performance heavy on velocity from beginning to end in helping Ellsworth improve to 3-1.

“My fastball definitely was big, and being able to pitch to contact with my fielders behind me,” said Wagstaff, who was backed by errorless defense. “It’s awesome when you don’t have to strike everybody out and you can just rely on your fielders. It’s a great feeling.”

Wagstaff’s only jam came as he was trying to preserve the shutout in the bottom of the seventh inning as he loaded the bases by hitting Levi Stedman with a pitch and issuing two-out walks to Matt Spooner and Esau Olson before regrouping with a game-ending strikeout.

“Conner has pitched well so far this year but walks had gotten ahead of him a bit,” said Curtis. “Today other than maybe one rough inning he was able to zone in and throw strikes pretty well.”

Ellsworth churned out 11 hits, including a two-out, two-run bloop single to left by Matt Burnett in the top of the third inning to extend the Eagles’ lead to 3-0 and another two-out, two-run single to center by cleanup hitter Sam Horne an inning later to make it 5-0.

Horne also had a two-out RBI double to plate Jared Hamilton with the game’s first run in the top of the first while Jack Lee singled home the Eagles’ final run in the top of the fifth.

“That shows how we can bear down and hit when it counts, and a lot of that comes from the veterans and captains on the team,” Wagstaff said.

Catcher Austin Baron contributed three singles — all of the infield variety — for Ellsworth while Lee, Horne and Jackson Curtis had two hits apiece and senior shortstop Bradly Smith scored twice from the leadoff spot.

“We were struggling to manufacture runs today but we were able to lock in with two outs thankfully and drive in some runs,” said Curtis. “Those are always helpful.”

Foxcroft (0-2) was limited to a one-out single by Matt Spooner in the bottom of the second inning and a leadoff double to deep left field by Ryan Vienneau in the fourth. Vienneau advanced to third base with two outs on a groundout by cleanup batter Ethan Curtis before Wagstaff induced Doug Kane to fly out to left to end the threat.

“The cutter was a good pitch for Conner,” said Curtis. “That’s the other pitch he throws just enough to keep people off-balance because Foxcroft’s going to hit the ball.

“If you throw enough fastballs eventually they’re going to time it up, but he was effective down in the zone and I think that’s what made him successful today.”

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