In 2005, the Maine Central Institute baseball team played for the Class B North regional title, losing to Mt. Desert Island on a drizzly day at Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium. Then, for the next dozen years, the program went practically dormant.

The high water marks for Huskies over the last 12 seasons were three-win seasons in 2006 and 2015. MCI had five one-win seasons in that span, and last season the Huskies went 2-14 to miss the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.

This spring, however, the Huskies finally found their baseball confidence, in no small part to the encouraging voice of head coach Eric Day.

“He got us to believe in ourselves more than we did before,” senior Pedro Matos said. “He knew that we could make the playoffs.”

After a rocky start, MCI was one of the hottest teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B division over the second half of the season. The Huskies went 7-2 down the stretch in the regular season, earning that trip to the regional playoffs that eluded the team for a dozen years.

“I’m hoping we can keep it going,” Day said.

For his part in MCI’s return to the playoffs, Eric Day is the Morning Sentinel Baseball Coach of the Year. Jeff Pillsbury, who coached Mt. Abram back to the playoffs after a long absence, and Robbie Emery, who became interim coach at Bridgeway as the regular season began and led the Bandits to the regional semifinals, also were considered.

A few weeks into the season, it looked like more of the same for MCI. The Huskies lost their first seven games, and confidence was shaky.

“The first half of the year, we’re 0-7, and it’s ‘Here we go again,'” Day, MCI’s head coach for the last four seasons, said.

Day wouldn’t let the team get down on itself, Matos said, and when the team earned its first victory, a 13-4 win over Mount View on May 9, it set off a run the Huskies hadn’t seen in more than a decade. On the final day of the regular season, MCI clinched a payoff spot with a 5-3 win at Leavitt.

“Instead of thinking they’d lose, the believed they could win,” Day said of his team.

Matos said Day is a strong teacher of the game. An outfielder by nature, Matos had to play shortstop much of his time at MCI to fill a need. Day helped him with his infield mechanics, Matos said. Day’s instruction also made Matos a better pitcher.

“As a pitcher, he taught me how to keep my balance on the mound, where to keep my head, and how to throw strikes,” Matos said.

Day cites his father, Brent Day, as a coaching mentor. Day played baseball for his father at Dexter High School.

“A lot of what we do is what I learned from him,” Day said.

Day also said he’s learned a lot about coaching from MCI head football coach Tom Bertrand and assistant coach Woody Moore. Day has been an assistant coach with the Huskies in each of their state championship campaigns the last two seasons. Don’t get too high or too low is the biggest lesson he’s learned from Bertrand and Moore, Day said.

“You can have good days or bad days, but you wouldn’t know watching them if it’s a bad day,” Day said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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