APPLETON, Wis. — The game was over. Not officially, but realistically. And as Ed Flaherty, the head baseball coach at the University of Southern Maine looked out onto the field at Fox Cities Stadium, he wanted to somehow honor the five seniors still out there.
So with one out in the top of the ninth inning and a runner on, Flaherty called time, walked out to the pitching mound and took them all out: pitcher Logan Carman (who was replaced by senior Nathan Veilleux), right fielder Chris Bernard, first baseman John Carey, catcher Matt Verrier and third baseman Troy Thibodeau.
They walked off the field as one to the applause of the USM fans who had traveled to Appleton. The Huskies were eliminated from the NCAA Division III national championships by Emory University, 15-3, on Monday afternoon. But they finished with one more lasting memory.
“I started looking around at my bench and wondering if there was a way to get all those seniors out of the game at the same time and get a round of applause which they deserved,” said Flaherty. “I thought it was a fitting ending. I’m glad I did it.”
Thibodeau said it was a nice ending to a tough day.
“I don’t expect anything less from Coach, he’s a class act,” said Thibodeau, from Danvers, Massachusetts. “I’m really proud to have played for this program for four years. Going out like that, with guys you’ve been competing with for four years, was just incredible.
“It’s bittersweet but it’s a good way to go out, if you can take something positive from this.”
CENTER FIELDER Forrest Chadwick, of Gardiner, carried the Huskies offensively in the tournament, going 9 for 16 with eight RBI and four runs. He doubled in his last at-bat, in the bottom of the eighth, and was replaced by pinch-runner Nick DiBiase.
“I was trying to hit one out,” he said. “Rolled it over though. Still, it was a nice way to end it.”
THE HUSKIES relievers looked a little worn in the game Monday, not surprising because they had been used a lot.
Flaherty noted as such when talking about junior Andrew Richards and sophomore Ryan Browner, who were two of the most effective relievers in the first three games. Both were hit hard by Emory and Flaherty that “you saw some wear-and-tear on Andrew and some wear-and-tear on Browner.”
Richards was the winning pitcher in relief each of the last two days, throwing a combined 92/3 innings. He had thrown 104 pitches in his first two appearances, 88 for strikes. On Monday he threw 22 pitches, 19 for strikes, and gave up three runs, two earned. Browner pitched 2/3 inning and gave up two runs.
“Andrew, you got to be careful with him,” said Flaherty. “He can’t cover our whole team forever. And it just got away at the end today.”
FLAHERTY didn’t sleep after Friday night’s opening 8-1 loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater. He was too busy preparing for the Huskies elimination game Saturday afternoon.
And when he got ready to go to the stadium, he forgot to shave. USM beat Salisbury, 6-3 that afternoon so, of course, Flaherty decided not to shave the next day.
“I told the kids I wouldn’t shave as long as we kept winning,” said Flaherty, sporting the delicate whiskers of a three-day growth. “They were all for that. So here it is. I always shave.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: