WATERVILLE — Waterville junior Brian Bellows would have preferred a sharp single or even a sacrifice fly, but his slow dribbler down the first base line was good enough.

It scored Alan Wood from third base to give the Purple Panthers a 1-0 win against Mount Desert Island and a berth in Tuesday’s Eastern Maine Class B championship game.

Third-seeded Waterville (16-3) will face rival Winslow (15-3) for the Eastern Maine title Tuesday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. No. 8 MDI finishes at 11-8.

During an inning in which Waterville successfully bunted twice, it was Bellows’ swinging bunt with the bases loaded that proved to be the game-winner. Trojan first baseman Adam Gray charged the ball, but bobbled it, allowing Wood to score.

“I was trying to get a pop fly out there,” Bellows said. “It was an off-speed (pitch). I was a little out front.”

In some respects, it was a fitting end to a brilliant pitching duel between Bellows and MDI senior Ben Walls. Both allowed four hits and pitched out of some epic jams. Bellows escaped a bases loaded jam in the fifth inning with a little help from a base-running mistake by pinch runner Brenden Sprague. With Sprague on third, the Trojans tried a safety squeeze, but Sprague got caught in no man’s land as Bellows fielded the ball and was tagged out in a rundown.

“The coach told him ‘you listen when I tell you to go,’ but he just broke,” MDI coach Mike Swanson said. “That was big. If he stays at third, the next guy hits a fly ball and it’s a run.”

The Panthers had a couple of chances against Walls. In the second, Aidan FitzGerald drew a walk, but was thrown out at third when Kaleb Kane’s bunt was misplayed and he tried to take an extra base. Waterville put runners on second and third in the fifth inning after Adam Barre and Danny Pooler each collected infield hits, the first off Walls. But Bellows ended the inning with a fly to left field.

“The kid’s as competitive as anyone who plays the baseball game,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said of Bellows. “There was nothing wrong with his at-bat, but he was pretty fired up to get back out there and make sure they couldn’t score off him.”

The left-handed Bellows finished with four strikeouts, three of which ended an inning, and retired the last seven batters he faced.

“He gets stronger as the game goes on,” Sawyer said.

Walls opened the seventh by walking Wood, his second of the game. Wood moved up on a wild pitch and Barre followed with a two-strike bunt that went for a hit although Wood didn’t advance. Sophomore AJ Godin, batting ninth, was also called on to bunt and got down a successful sacrifice with two strikes on him.

“I bunt a lot when I’m up,” Godin said. “I’ve (bunted with two strikes) before but I don’t do it every day. I was just trying to move Woody over at second so we could have a nice second and third.”

FitzGerald made a couple of nice plays for Waterville behind the plate. In the first inning he caught a foul bunt attempt and doubled a runner off first. And he ended the third inning with another double play, throwing out Keegan McKim on an attempted steal after Bellows struck out Walls.

The Panthers face Winslow for the fourth time this year, having lost to them twice before beating them in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship game.

“It’s probably one of the funnest games to play,” Bellows said. “It’s our rival.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]

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