The Trenton Acadians Senior American Legion baseball team won its first state championship and will represent Maine in the 2023 Northeast Regional Tournament. Credit: Courtesy of Amanda McLaughlin

The Trenton Acadians’ Senior American Legion baseball team became a reality in 1979, when Mount Desert Island baseball coach Dennis Damon and Ellsworth coach Jack Scott teamed up to create and coach the team.

Now, 44 years later, the Acadians will represent the state of Maine at the Northeast Regional Tournament for the first time after winning their first state championship over the weekend.

The Acadians, comprising players from MDI, Ellsworth and Blue Hill’s George Stevens Academy, went 5-0 in the eight-team, double-elimination state tournament held in Augusta and punched their ticket to Fitton Field on the campus of Holy Cross University in Worcester, Massachusetts, with a 2-0 win over defending champ Hampden in the championship game.

It was their 10th consecutive win and improved their record to 17-4.

The Acadians will open the eight-team, double-elimination regional tournament against New Hampshire champ Nashua on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

The Trenton Junior American Legion team also won its state title with a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Augusta after Augusta had forced a title game by beating Trenton 8-3 earlier in the day on Saturday. That was a four-team, double-elimination affair.

Ellsworth’s Hunter Curtis, who was the North Atlantic Conference’s Rookie of the Year at Husson University in Bangor this past spring, was the American Legion Senior tourney’s Most Valuable Player after hitting two homers and pitching an eight-hit shutout in the final against Hampden.

Curtis hadn’t pitched in more than a year, as he was exclusively a right fielder at Husson.

“It had been a long time since I pitched but I had pitched a lot in high school. I just went out and threw strikes,” said Curtis, who was backed by an exceptional defensive performance from his teammates.

“We haven’t made many errors this season,” Curtis said.

He was also pleased to be able to come through at the plate for his team.

“I took over a month off after the college season and I had struggled a little bit adjusting to playing again. But I finally got back and I felt pretty good in the tournament,” Curtis added.

“Hunter sparked our offense in the tournament,” said 23-year-old first-year head coach Brad Smith, who played for Curtis’ father, Dan, at Ellsworth before playing at Waterville’s Thomas College.

Hunter Curtis said it is “pretty special” to play for the first Trenton state championship Senior Legion team.

“My dad played for Trenton and there were quite a few other good players who also never won [a state championship],” Curtis said.

He added that one of the highlights of the summer has been playing with his younger brother Dawson, who just turned 15. Hunter is 19 and he played with his older brother, Jackson, at Husson this spring. Jackson was a junior.

“This was the first time I was able to play on the same team with Dawson in any sport,” Hunter Curtis said.

Dawson Curtis and MDI High School’s Colin Sullivan helped lead Trenton to the junior Legion championship in addition to playing for the senior Legion team.

Sullivan was chosen the Most Valuable Player of the Junior tournament.

Dawson Curtis and Sullivan are both going to be sophomores at their respective high schools in the fall.

Dawson Curtis is a first baseman and Sullivan plays second base and shortstop, in addition to pitching.

“They both play at a level way above their ages,” Smith said.

Smith said the key to the team’s success has been the pitching.

“Our pitching has enabled us to stay in every game, even if we weren’t hitting. And we have been getting timely hits during our winning streak,” Smith said.

Ellsworth’s Craig Burnett and Peter Keblinsky have had tremendous seasons on the mound. Burnett, who pitched as a freshman at Central Maine Community College in Auburn this spring, is 6-0 with a 0.32 earned-run average and Keblinsky is 5-1 with an 0.70 ERA.

Keblinsky just graduated from Ellsworth High.

Sullivan was 2-1 with a 4.40 ERA in the third spot in the rotation.

Keblinsky, who is the shortstop when he’s not pitching, is the team’s leading hitter at .367. Hunter Curtis is hitting .362 with an impressive on-base percentage of .538 from the leadoff spot.

David Baugh, the left fielder, is hitting .351, Dawson Curtis is at .350 and leads the team with 12 runs batted in, and Sullivan is a .327 hitter. Third baseman Wyatt Bragdon is hitting .297.

Bragdon’s brother, Brett, has caught every game.

Miles Palmer is an outstanding defensive player in right field and is the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.

The other players are second baseman Joey Wellman-Clouse, outfielder Drew Cote, pitcher-pinch runner A.J. Lozano, outfielder-second baseman Brady Pert, utility player Dan Howie, pitcher Brayden King, catcher Hollis Grindal and first baseman Isaac McDonnell.

Damon, who is the field director for the State American Legion Tournament, said it was “very gratifying” to see a program he helped start with Scott finally win a state title.

“I’m proud of the way they play and it is a classy young bunch of kids on both levels (Senior and Junior Legion),” Damon said. “It’s pretty pleasing.”

Smith is assisted by Josh Jackon and the Junior Legion coaches are Conner Wagstaff and Mike Boles.