STANDISH — When Ellsworth High scores runs, and has Matt Burnett atop the mound, the Eagles seem to relax.

“It’s become an expectation,” Ellsworth Coach Dan Curtis said. “His teammates know what he can do, and kind of sit back.”

Ellsworth scored only two runs on Saturday and it was plenty, as the Eagles shut out Freeport, 2-0, in the Class B state baseball championship game at Larry Mahaney Diamond at St. Joseph’s College.

Burnett pitched a three-hitter, striking out seven. He also knocked in the winning run with a sacrifice fly, part of a two-run fifth inning.

The Eagles (19-1) won their first state championship since 1988. Freeport (16-4) was making its second appearance in a state title game. The Falcons were defeated by Old Town in 2016.

Ellsworth entered this season with the potential of a powerhouse. The Eagles featured the pitching duo of Burnett (who is headed to the University of Southern Maine) and Conner Wagstaff (who will pitch for Southern New Hampshire University), and enough offense to be a force.


“We never said the words (state championship) out loud, but they knew what they were capable of,” Curtis said.

In the playoffs, Burnett pitched a two-hit, 13-strikeout shutout in the North semifinals, and then relieved Wagstaff in the final.

On Saturday, Burnett kicked into an extra gear whenever Freeport threatened.

“He’s a great pitcher,” Freeport Coach Kyle Goodrich said. “He pitched a heck of a game and won that game for them.”

Burnett was so dominant that Goodrich had to get aggressive on the base paths. In the sixth inning, when Gabe Wagner drew a two-out walk, Burnett had him steal second. When the next batter, Anthony Panciocco, had a three-ball count, Wagner stole third. Panciocco drew a walk and stole second.

“We tried to do anything we could to get him out of rhythm,” Goodrich said.


Standing off the mound, Burnett took a couple of deep breaths, and went back to work.

“I do not like runners on base. I kick myself,” Burnett said. “Put my head down and threw the ball … the two walks shook me, but I realized I can get out of this.”

Burnett induced a fly out to left field, ending the threat.

In the seventh, Burnett ended it with a 1-2-3 inning, finishing with a strikeout.

“It’s been 31 years since this school’s seen a state title,” Burnett said. “To finally have that is unbelievable.”

At the start, even with Burnett pitching, the Eagles could not get complacent, especially after going scoreless for four innings. Ellsworth, which had eight hits, put runners on base in the second, third and fourth innings, but stranded them – including a bases-loaded, two-out situation in the fourth. Freeport starter Shea Wagner ended that threat with a strikeout.


“Shea gave it all he got. They’re a good-hitting team and he battled,” Goodrich said.

Ellsworth’s Tyler Mitchell led off the fifth with a single to left. Devin Grindle bunted. Shea Wagner slipped while going for the ball, and the Eagles had two runners on. Jackson Curtis loaded the bases with a single to left.

Burnett drilled a line drive to center. Gabe Wagner made a leaping catch, but Mitchell easily scored, and Grindle reached third.

Grindle scored on a double steal. Jackson Curtis bolted for second base. Freeport threw the ball down. Grindle took off and the Falcons’ throw home was off-target, putting the Eagles up 2-0.

A two-run lead, with Burnett pitching, had Ellsworth thinking championship.

“I felt very confident,” Mitchell said. “(Burnett) has had our back the whole way.”

Ellsworth’s title brings back memories of a dominant 10 years for the Eagles, from 1983-92, when they reached the title game seven times, winning three of them.

“I told (Burnett and Wagstaff), as we walked off the field, that there are a lot of legends that have come out of Ellsworth High School and you’re amongst them now,” Curtis said.

“They had a goal of generating excitement again in the program, and I think they’ve done that.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.