GORHAM – Forrest Chadwick drove in three runs and Dustin Stanton shut the door in relief as Southern Maine beat Plymouth State 6-1 to capture the 2012 Little East Conference Baseball Championship on Sunday afternoon at USM.

The top-seeded Huskies (27-17) celebrated their first LEC title since 1999 with the win and advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament, which starts Wednesday in Willimatic, Conn.

“I’ve been in a slump lately but I just kept plugging along,” said Chadwick, who also drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning of USM’s 2-1 win over Keene State earlier in the day that moved the Huskies into the championship game.

“My coaches and teammates had faith in me. It’s a great bunch of guys.”

Chadwick hit a sacrifice fly to push home the second run in a three-run third inning against the Panthers to give the Huskies a 3-1 lead. His bases-loaded single in the fourth knocked in two more to increase the USM lead to 6-1.

Stanton (2-3) took over for starter Logan Carman with one out and one on in the third inning with the Huskies leading 3-1. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound reliever went the final 62/3 innings, which included a 35-minute rain delay between the seventh and eighth innings. Stanton allowed only four hits while striking out four.

“I wanted to get this done as a senior and a quad-captain,” said Stanton.

“I left nothing out there. I mean, I have nothing left right now. I didn’t know if I was ever going to play on a college baseball diamond again.”

Luke Merrill gave Plymouth State (20-22) a short-lived 1-0 lead with a solo home run off the left-field foul pole in the second.

The championship victory was rewarding for USM Coach Ed Flaherty, especially considering that the Huskies played with their backs against the wall after losing their opening game (3-2 to Plymouth State on Wednesday) in the six-team, double elimination tournament.

The title was also memorable in the fact that USM rallied for seven straight wins to close out the regular season.

“Two weeks ago, we were 16-16 and sitting on this field,” said Flaherty. “We were as low as we could go. Since then our pitching staff has a 2.3 ERA and that’s the name of the game, to pitch. We did really, really well, especially in this tournament.

“Ben Ives in the first game was lights out and Stanton in the second game pitched the way I expected him to pitch out of the pen for us.”

Ives (9-0) started USM off on the right foot Sunday, striking out 10 on his way to a complete-game three hitter in the 2-1 win over Keene State.

Chadwick’s game-winning single came off Owls reliever Tim Quagliaroli.