The top-ranked Old Town High School baseball team looked all the part of a serious contender for the Class B North title during a 4-1 victory over third-seeded Ellsworth on Thursday afternoon.
The Coyotes got an efficient six-hit, complete-game pitching effort from right-hander Matt Seymour, applied offensive pressure throughout the contest with nine hits and 17 total baserunners, and made some timely defensive plays to prevent the visiting Eagles from getting any offensive momentum.
It was a nice birthday present for first-year Old Town head coach Justin Crisafulli.
“This was a playoff-type atmosphere, so we made sure we came to the ballpark ready to play today,” Crisafulli said after his team’s fifth consecutive victory. “This was a game that really showed our character.”
Seymour required just 75 pitches, including 52 strikes, to complete his pitching masterpiece. The senior went to a three-ball count on just two batters while striking out two, walking no one and yielding no earned runs. Old Town improved its record to 12-2 and remained undefeated against Class B competition.
“He pounds the strike zone and makes our ‘D’ work,” Old Town catcher Noah Thibodeau said. “I think that’s what you need to do in high school baseball and he does an excellent job of it.”
Thibodeau also had his fingerprints all over this contest, throwing out two would-be base stealers and reaching base in all four of his plate appearances with two singles, a walk and being hit by a pitch.
Leadoff batter Gabe Gifford added a diving catch in center field to rob Ellsworth catcher Nathan Smith of a second-inning hit along with two singles, a walk, two stolen bases and a run scored, but the biggest hit of the game came from No. 9 batter Isaac Hayes.
Hayes’ two-run single with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning drove home Connor McCannell and Seth Haverlock to extend the Coyotes’ lead to a much more comfortable 4-0 and force Ellsworth starter Hunter Curtis from the mound.
“I was battling back in the count and just choked up and put the ball in play,” Hayes said of the 1-2 pitch he grounded into center field. “I had a two-strike approach and just slapped the ball and it went up the middle.”
Ellsworth countered with an unearned run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by David Baugh, but Seymour induced back-to-back groundouts to prevent any further damage in that inning. Shortstop Tanner Evans and Haverlock at second base later combined to turn the game-ending double play after Smith had his second hit of the game in the top of the seventh, a one-out single to center.
The loss ended a three-game winning streak for Ellsworth, now 9-5.
A leadoff double by Peyton Vose followed immediately by singles from Thibodeau and Connor McCannell produced Old Town’s first run in the bottom of the second. A bases-loaded walk to cleanup hitter Casey Downs forced home Gifford to make it 2-0 in the fourth.
Old Town has games remaining against Class A Bangor on Saturday and at Hermon next Tuesday to close out the regular season, but there’s also an excitement building among the Coyotes for the playoffs that loom just ahead.
“I think all of the boys are ready,” Seymour said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, especially after [not playing] last year. We had a pretty solid team last year, too, so I know all of us are just bugging to get ready to play.”