Written by Jacob Ouellette
The Sanford Mainers have been searching for a way to finally beat the Laconia Muskrats after dropping the first four meetings this season. After scoring 21 runs on 36 hits in the past two games, the Mainers offense seemed to be headed in the right direction to finally top the recently slumping Muskrats.
The Mainers offense showed up, but so did the Muskrats', as the Mainers fell 12-9.
It all started in the bottom of the first inning. EJ Ashworth made his third start for the Mainers and his first against Laconia. After two outs and a single by Wil Leathers, Regan Flaherty hit a frozen rope home run to right field to put his team up quickly 2-0.
Nevin Wilson got the nod for the Muskrats. He retired the Mainers in order in the first inning, but ran into trouble in the second. He served up a lead off double to Anthony Hajjar, followed by back-to-back walks to Gavin Stark and Mark Weist. Brett Armour then grounded a ball to short, however, beat out the throw on a double play attempt, allowing Hajjar to score.
Runners were at the corners for the Mainers with only one out and Will Cooper came to bat and hit a double to left field scoring Weist to tie the game at 2.
The Muskrats went down quickly in order in the bottom half of the second - an inning that only took four pitches from Ashworth.
In the top of the third the Mainers took their first, and only lead of the game. Jordan Hagel continued his hot hitting by smacking a double to start off the inning. With one out, Hagel stole third, but after a throwing error by catcher Corey Stringer, Hagel came into score the Mainers third run.
The score was 3-2, but the Muskrats had an answer for that. After a one out single by Vince Conde, Wil Leathers, who recently joined the Muskrats, hit a two run home run to left, putting Laconia ahead 4-3. Later in the inning with two runners on, John Ziznewski hit an RBI single allowing Danny Collins to score pushing their lead to 5-3.
The Mainers were held off the board in the top half of the fourth, but the Muskrats added another. Tyler Raymond lead off the inning by taking a 3-2 pitch to left field for his first home run of the year and the Muskrats sixth run of the game.
Heading into the top of the fifth, the Mainers continued to fight. Cooper started off the inning by trotting down to first with a walk. He didn't stay there long as Hagel hit a one out triple to center, scoring Cooper all the way from first. With one out and Hagel ninety feet away, Jordan Betts extended his hitting streak to nine games by lacing a two-run home run to left-center field tying the game at 6.
The game wouldn't be tied for long. In the bottom of the fifth, a very similar play to that of Hagel's stolen base in the third occurred. With one out and runners on first and second, Donny Duschinsky stole third, but after a throwing error by catcher Brett Armour, Duschinsky came in to score the go ahead run.
Yet again the Mainers weren't going to let the Muskrats stray too far. After two outs and runners on second and third, Stringer allowed a ball to get to the back stop, resulting in another run scored for the Mainers, tying the game once again, this time at 7 runs each.
The Muskrats began to put the game out of reach when they scored three times in the bottom of the sixth and twice in the bottom of the eighth. Both innings included a two-run home run by Collins; his ninth and tenth on the season, good enough for the league lead.
Entering the top of the ninth, the Mainers had only three outs to bring the game back from a 12-7 deficit. Hagel started off the inning with a ground rule double. With nobody out and a runner in scoring position, Betts took a pay-off pitch to opposite field for his second home run of the game.
The score was at 12-9, but that's all the Mainers were able to gather.
The Muskrats are now 5-0 against the Mainers this season, however not one game has been more than a three run differential.
As the Mainers fall to 5-12 on the season, they will celebrate the Nation's birthday by traveling to North Adams tomorrow night to face the SteepleCats. Rohn Pierce is expected to make the start for the Mainers. Game time slated for 6:30pm. Catch all the action on the NECBL Broadcast Network.
Final Box Score
WP: Tim Swatek (2-0) LP: Colin Egan (0-1) SV: None
Notes: Jordan Betts extends his hit streak to nine games... Hajjar extends his to five... Betts is now second in the league for home runs with seven... The Mainers are now 1-11 against all other teams besides New Bedford... 0-5 against Laconia... In three games the Mainers have scored 30 runs on 44 hits...