GORHAM — And now the wait.

The University of Southern Maine baseball team failed Saturday to win the Little East Conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Now the Huskies must wait to see if they will receive an at-large bid.

USM was unable to come up with the clutch hit in a 6-3 loss to UMass-Dartmouth, stranding 14 and going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position in the opening game of Saturday’s three-team championship round at Flaherty Field.

The Corsairs got strong pitching from Sean Callahan, throwing on two days’ rest, and big hits from Mitch Baker and Kenny Michael to hold off the Huskies.

UMass-Dartmouth (25-19) played UMass-Boston (32-10) for the league title and the automatic NCAA bid in the late game.

The Huskies should have a good shot at an at-large bid. They have a 30-11 record, are ranked first in New England (followed by UMass-Boston) and in the top 20 in two national polls.

Asked if his team’s record would be enough to get in, USM Coach Ed Flaherty said, “If it doesn’t, something’s wrong. You play for 41 games to get yourself in a position – this tournament’s tough to win – to get an at-large bid. We’re one of the best teams in the country, in my mind … I’m confident.”

The NCAA will announce its 56-team field early Monday morning – sometime after midnight.

Forty-one spots are automatic bids. Two are Pool B bids (independent schools or the winner of a league that doesn’t get an automatic bid) and 13 are at-large.

Flaherty said he may stay up Sunday night to find out. Then again … “maybe not. I’m at that age, whatever happens, happens,” he said.

Matt Bender, USM’s third baseman who had another two hits Saturday, is staying up.

“I’m not going to sleep Sunday night,” he said. “It’s going to be a long night. I’m going to be by my laptop. Especially as a senior, I want this team to move on.”

UMass-Dartmouth entered Saturday knowing it would need two wins to get into the NCAA tournament.

That’s why Callahan approached Coach Bob Prince – an All-America outfielder for Flaherty on USM’s 1991 national championship team – and told him he wanted the ball.

“Senior year, figured I had to leave it all out there,” said Callahan. “Just had to do my thing.”

Callahan pitched 71/3 innings and gave up 10 hits and three runs – two coming after he was relieved with the bases loaded in the eighth.

“He felt strong, as strong as you can be on two days’ rest,” said Prince.

“He certainly went out there and proved it.”

Callahan used his fastball and secondary pitches to keep the Huskies off-balance. He was at his best with runners on; he stranded 10, included the bases loaded in the fifth.

“We got hits,” said USM catcher Kip Richard. “They just didn’t fall when we needed them to.”

“He’s a senior, been around and can wiggle himself out of those situations,” Flaherty said of Callahan. “It was his competitiveness in those situations that was the difference.”

USM trailed 4-1 after Baker hit a high chopper over third base for two UMass-Dartmouth runs in the seventh. The Huskies scored twice in the top of the eighth – one coming in on a wild pitch, the other on a single by Andrew Olszak – to pull within 4-3. But Michael hit a two-run double to center in the bottom of the inning to regain the three-run lead.

Nate Tellier got his second save to close it out, stranding two final Huskies runners.

Prince thinks USM should get a bid.

“They certainly should,” he said. “I think both them and Boston are deserving of getting in. I think our conference is the strongest in New England.”