The image is etched in Scott Ellsworth’s memory.
Rylan MacPhail scoring on a Cam Mckenna double in extra innings of the Atlantic mosquito AAA baseball championship Sunday to give the Mid-Isle Mustangs the title in Fredericton, N.B.
“He slid and slapped his hand on the plate,” Ellsworth explained. “The boys were half out of the dugout. They tackled him. It was awesome to look at their faces there. They were so happy. They are quite a group.”
Posted by Craig Smallman on Sunday, September 15, 2019
The Mustangs went 3-1 in the round robin and earned the bye to the final based on allowing the fewest runs per inning. Ellsworth said the deep pitching staff, which has been a hallmark of the squad all season, was crucial again to setting the team up for success at Atlantics.
“Chase Desroches, Drew Watts, Cam McKenna and Gabe Wolfe all pitched great games Friday and Saturday, setting us up for Sunday,” he said.
Sunday’s 5-4 victory avenged an earlier loss to Tri-County, N.S., in the first tournament of the season. That loss also came in extra innings of a championship game.
“There’s not much between the two teams,” Ellsworth said.
Tri-County scored two in the top of the first and Mid-Isle answered with two in their half of the inning. The game went back and forth before the scoring stopped in the fourth.
Alex Curran, who was picked up from the Eastern Express, came in to pitch in the third inning and threw into the eighth inning.
“It felt like he was on the team all year. That’s how good he fit in,” Ellsworth said.
The game was tied in the fourth and fifth inning, but the Mustangs looked to break open the game in the sixth. They had the bases loaded with no out but were unable to score. Ellsworth decided to send the runner from third on a flyball to right, but the right-fielder caught the ball and threw a cannon to the plate for the double play.
The Mustangs threatened in the next inning with runners on first and second with no out and then the bases loaded with one out, but they came away empty-handed.
Ellsworth thinks the mental toughness the team built up during the season by losing a few tough games helped them in the final game of the season.
“It really paid off. When it mattered, we were ready,” he said.
The team is a tight group that care for one another. MacPhail, a vacuum at shortstop, won the home run derby on a hit-off at Atlantics with his teammates all in the outfield.
“You’d think they’d all won it. They were all so happy for him,” Ellsworth said. “That’s the most rewarding thing about them.”
A look at the Mid-Isle Mustangs run to an Atlantic championship last weekend in Fredericton, N.B.
Prince Edward Island 9, Tri-County, N.S. 2
Host 3 Prince Edward Island 2
Prince Edward Island 10 Miramichi 2
Prince Edward Island 17 Newfoundland and Labrador 2
Prince Edward Island 5 Tri-County 4