SANFORD – In the Goodall Park grandstand, they awaited the 10th win of the season.

The Sanford Mainers fell shy of delivering, losing 8-4 to the Laconia Muskrats before a crowd of 429.

The moon came up, a late rally fell short and another ballgame was in the books.

Despite the loss, it is among the Mainers’ best starts to the New England Collegiate Baseball League season in eight years of existence. The Mainers are 9-5 and lead the Eastern Division.

“I told them we’re not going to give up eight runs a game, to just chill out about this loss and leave it at the park today,” said Coach Aaron Izaryk.

“I thought we made good adjustments. It’s easy to crawl in and decide tonight’s not your night. We didn’t do that. We made them work.”

The Muskrats (8-9) got a fine start from left-hander Tyler Joyner, who struck out six in 51/3 innings.

His teammates scattered 13 hits and scored single runs in the third, fourth, seventh, eighth innings and a pair each in the fifth and ninth.

The Mainers, meanwhile, got 11 hits, including one from Regan Flaherty, the former Deering standout and younger brother of Chicago Cubs prospect Ryan Flaherty. Regan Flaherty just completed his first season at Vanderbilt.

“I’m feeling better at the plate,” said Flaherty, who went 1 for 4 with a single in the sixth. “When you get down early, you just want to chip away. Tonight was tough.”

His Vanderbilt teammate Anthony Gomez made his debut and went 0 for 1 with a walk.

Seven players on the Mainers’ roster returned from last season, including leadoff batter Matt Marra from LeMoyne College. Marra said the continuity helps.

“When we first got here we all started to hang out, so the team chemistry has been strong right out,” said Marra.

“Losing stinks, but it’s a lesson for us to not take any team lightly. Their starter was sharp those first few innings, but we got going and put the pressure on.”

The Mainers scored in the third, fourth and sixth, then rallied for one in the ninth and threatened with two on before Jim Schult struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch.

In the stands, the home crowd kept believing, including Rick Ouellette, vice chairman of the Mainers’ board of trustees. He’s hosted 13 players at his home through the years and likes this group. He hasn’t seen them quit.

“This team has had a lot of confidence early on,” said Ouellette. “Usually it takes a little while for these guys to jell. But the feeling is strong. We’re in every game.”

Izaryk, who is an assistant coach at the University of Maine, said he expects his players to keep at it for 27 outs a game.

“I’m happy as long as they’re playing as hard as they can … whether we’re down one run or five,” said Izaryk.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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