The Mainers were the last team in, but they are one of the final four after they topped the Newport Gulls in the Wild Card Round, 9-7. It was the tale of two halves, as the offenses were on display early, but the relievers shined at the end.
Sanford got off to a blazing start with Cal Hewett (Vanderbilt) singled to begin the game, followed by a two-run home run from Quinn McDaniel (Maine), 2-0.
The Gulls responded off a Slate Alford (Mississippi State) RBI double that scored Kolton Freeman (Dartmouth), 2-1.
After a chance for Newport to take the lead in the second, the Moose put up four in the third.
First, a double from Jake Rainess (Maine) scored McDaniel and put runners on second and third. David Bermudez (Manhattan) then delivered with a double that scored Aidan Kane (Delaware) and Rainess. Finally, Alex Knapp (George Mason) cranked a double to bring Bermudez home, 6-1.
Like they did before the Gulls came back, a single from Noah Martinez (Central Connecticut State) scored Colton Ledbetter (Mississippi State). Then a passed ball scored Alford before Alec Makarewicz (East Carolina) capped off the inning with a double to bring in Martinez, 6-4.
In the fifth, a sacrifice bunt from Devan Bade (Binghamton) scored Rainess. The next batter, Adam Dapkewicz (Georgetown), launched a two-run shot over the right-center wall, 9-4. Dapkewicz did not have a home run during the regular season but chose the perfect time to get his first.
Newport had a response in the bottom half.
Martinez led off with a solo shot to right-center. A couple of long doubles put runners in scoring position, and Jack Scanlon (Oregon) did enough on his groundout to drive in Josh Kuroda-Grauer (Rutgers). Then, Trent Farquar (Michigan State) pushed Makarewicz home on a single, 9-7.
However, the tides changed in the sixth as both sides went to their top pitchers, Ryan Ginther (Vanderbilt) for the Gulls and Afthim for Sanford.
The Mainers never fully got a beat on Ginther, but they didn’t have to. A double-play ended a Newport threat in the bottom of the sixth, and after that, Afthim was untouchable.
Afthim finished with four scoreless frames and retired the last nine Newport hitters. He notched five strikeouts, including one of Makarewicz for the final out to win the wild card.
The green and yellow will take on North Division foe, the Vermont Mountaineers, in a best-of-3 series in the semifinals. Game one is tomorrow in Montpelier, where Matthew Sapienza (Georgetown) will be on the mound.
The Mainers took the last meeting, 6-0, on Saturday behind a complete shutout from Bryce Afthim (Southern Maine).
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