To our readers,

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century type story, ... Click here to continue

High school baseball

Oceanside 'squeezes' out top performances in playoff split

No. 10 Mariners hit road twice in postseason to beat No. 7 Waterville, then pushes No. 2 Ellsworth to limit
By Mark Haskell | Jun 10, 2021
Photo by: Mark Haskell Oceanside teammates Bowen Brann, left, and Duncan Oakes-Nelsen cross paths, sort of, as Brann scampers home on Oakes-Nelsen's suicide squeeze bunt on June 7 against Waterville in high school baseball. The visiting Mariners beat the Purple Panthers 12-7 in prelim playoff game.

Momentum, in many ways, is the X-factor to winning a baseball game.

And 10th-ranked Oceanside — playing in a Class B North high school prelim playoff against No. 7 Waterville on Monday, June 7 — snatched the momentum with one fourth-inning play.

Trailing 2-1 before Alex Bartlett tied the score as he scampered home on a wild pitch, Mariner Duncan Oakes-Nelsen stood at the plate and Bowen Brann at third when Oceanside coach Don Shields signaled for one of the most exciting plays in baseball.

“I love the suicide [squeeze],” he said. “I love the suicide bunt. That’s the second or third time we’ve used it this year and we’ve won a couple of games in the past by suicide. And we had the right guy up.”

Oakes-Nelsen placed a perfect bunt that trickled past the passing Brann as he gave the Mariners a lead they did not relinquish in what ended as a hard-fought, 12-7 postseason victory.

Watch video and see 30 photos below.

With the win, Oceanside (7-11) advanced to the quarterfinals, where it pushed No. 2 Ellsworth (13-5) to the limit in a 2-0 quarterfinal playoff loss on Thursday, June 10.

Waterville’s season wrapped at 7-10. Oceanside also beat the Purple Panthers 5-1 earlier in the regular season, but did not play the Eagles.

No. 2 Ellsworth 2, No. 10 Oceanside 0

The Mariners continued to play some of their best baseball at the end of the spring, and showed that again on Thursday against the Eagles in the second round of the playoffs.

In fact, Oceanside coach Don Shields said after his team's prelim victory: “I don’t believe there’s anyone we can’t beat if we play our style of baseball."

And the Mariners' style of ball nearly helped the road warriors win another postseason game on Thursday.

Instead, Ellsworth earned the shutout victory and moves on to the semifinals, where it will face No. 3 Lawrence of Fairfield or No. 11 Caribou.

In Thursday's playoff encounter, the Eagles, who had five hits, no errors and six runners left on base, scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Oceanside had six hits, three errors and seven stranded.

Oceanside's Austin Chilles and Ellsworth's Craig Burnett were repeat hitters with two singles. Michael Palmer also doubled for the hosts.

Burnett earned the complete-game pitching win with two walks and eight strikeouts. Chilles (no earned runs, 2 walks, hit batter, strikeout) suffered the tough-luck loss.

In the fourth inning, Palmer had a two-out double, advanced to third on a throw that was not backed up and scored on a wild pitch, Shields said.

In the fifth, Brett Bragdon reached on a one-out error, moved to second on a hit batter, and scored when Ellsworth bounced into a fielder's choice, but the throw to first for a double play was wide and the error allowed the run to score.

"We knew Ellsworth doesn’t give up a lot of runs and had played a lot of close games and we needed to put pressure on them and score first," Shield said. "We had a chance to score in the second inning with runners on second and third and no outs and failed to execute two suicide squeezes, the second a double play. That inability to get those bunts down hurt greatly."

The veteran coach said "Chilles pitched a great game and if we back up a throw from the outfield, the first run doesn’t score because he doesn’t get to third. The second run came as we tried to turn a double play and almost turned it."

Shields said it was a "tough way to end a season, but in the playoffs you can’t make costly mistakes. We made three mistakes — two bunts and failed back up — and Ellsworth didn’t make any big mistakes and they are moving on."

No. 10 Oceanside 12, No. 7 Waterville 7

In Monday's playoff game, moved back to 5 p.m. to avoid some of the heat wave, Oceanside plated a run in the third prior to a pivotal six-run fourth inning that helped the visitors, ultimately, take the lead for good.

The Mariners tacked on two insurance runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth, while Waterville scored twice in the third and thrice in the fourth, with individual runs in the fifth and sixth frames.

“We’re a better road team,” said Shields. “That’s our sixth road win of the year. We play better on the road. Something about getting on the bus and making the trips. Our kids really ground it out today.”

The Mariner offense was led Monday by Austin Chilles (run), Finnegan Lynch (double, single, 2 stolen bases, 4 RBIs, run), Nate Coombs (2 singles, 3 RBIs, stolen base), Connor Calderwood (double), Alex Bartlett (single, 2 runs), Bowen Brann (2 runs), Will Eaton (run), Alec Sirois (double, RBI), Nathaniel Barnard (2 runs), Aidan Bonzagni (run) and Duncan Oakes-Nelsen (single, run, 3 RBIs, stolen base).

For the Purple Panthers, Spencer Minihan (run), Liam Von Oesen (single, 2 stolen bases, RBI), Joe Hamelin (double, 2 RBIs), Brandon Bearce (run, stolen base), Alex Spaulding (2 singles, run, RBI), Gage Hubbard (run), Elias Nawfel (single, run) and John Naufel (single, 2 runs, RBI) paced the offense.

Oakes-Nelsen spun four innings on the mound and Barnard the final three frames, as the duo combined to allow six hits and eight walks, with nine strikeouts for Oceanside.

Waterville countered with Addison McCormick, A.J. Kalacihski, Von Oesen, Hubbard and Hamelin as the quintet surrendered eight hits, walked 12 and hit one batter, while fanning seven.

The visitors struck first when Barnard drew a walk, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a balk before he trotted home on a bloop single.

The hosts responded in the bottom of the inning and took the advantage on a two-run double by Hamelin, but the Mariners sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the fourth and plated six of them to take a commanding 7-2 lead.

Bartlett and Brann reached on back-to-back walks and Barnard later did the same to momentarily load the bases before Bartlett scored on a wild pitch to tie the score 2-2.

Then, after a Waterville pitching change, Oakes-Nelsen laid down the bunt to plate Brann, which helped the Mariners seize control of the contest.

“That play is one of those plays that, it can turn a ballgame around and that was the momentum changer for us,” said Shields.

An error moments later loaded the bases for Lynch, who roped a two-run double, followed by a two-single by Coombs, to give the visitors a 7-2 edge.

Waterville cut its deficit to 7-5 in the fourth, but Oceanside continued to pour it on over the final three frames with RBIs from Lynch, Coombs, Sirois and Oakes-Nelsen.

Shields praised the work on the bump by Oakes-Nelsen and Barnard, which allowed the veteran coach to hold Chilles, who he plans to pitch against the Eagles on Thursday.

“In this heat man, he gave me everything you could ask out of him in four [innings],” said Shields. “[And] Nathaniel’s been doing a nice job for us the last couple of weeks. I think it’s his third or fourth straight appearance. He struggled early in the season, but recently he’s done a really nice job. I thought he was as good today as I’ve seen him.”

Oceanside at Waterville baseball
Waterville hosts Oceanside on June 8 in high school baseball. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Zack Miller)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Scene from Oceanside at Waterville on June 7 in high school baseball. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.
Note: If you signed up using our new subscriber portal, your username is the email address you registered with and your password is in all caps