-LYNN, Mass. – The Sanford Mainers saw their season come to an end Wednesday, but not without putting up a strong fight.

Down by three runs heading into the ninth inning, the Mainers rallied for two runs before the North Shore Navigators held on for a 7-6 victory in the decisive Game 3 of their New England Collegiate Baseball League Eastern Division semifinal series.

Sanford trailed 5-1 heading into the eighth inning and 7-4 going into the ninth, but could only close the gap to one run each time.

“It just shows that everybody wanted to be here,” said Mainers second baseman Joe Wendle. “With two outs in the ninth, a lot of teams would have packed it in and gone home. We kept on battling right to the end.”

Sanford still trailed by three and was down to its last strike when Wendle tripled to right field. Mike Roth followed with a drive over the right-field wall to pull the Mainers within a run.

“We just thought that we just needed to chip away,” said second-year player Matt Marra.

Sanford fell behind early when Anthony Melchionda hit a first-inning home run off Mainers’ starter Mike Augliera to give the Navigators a 3-0 lead.

With two on and one out, Melchionda sliced Augliera’s first pitch just inside the left-field foul pole.

The Navigators added a run in the second, but Sanford scored with two outs in the third to make it 4-1.

Walks to Wendle and Roth put runners on first and second. Mike McCann worked a full count off North Shore starter Daniel Patrick before lining a single to right scoring Wendle.

North Shore padded its lead with a run in the sixth, but Sanford stormed back in the seventh with three runs to close to 5-4.

Singles by Marra, Dillon Checkal and Pat Cantwell produced one run. Wendle’s groundout drove in the second and Cantwell scored on a wild pitch.

“We were down the whole game,” said Cantwell. “We never gave up. We kept on fighting.”

Sanford’s hopes died when Navigators second baseman Matt Hamlet made a diving stop on a sharp grounder by McCann, then got him on a close play at first.

NOTES: Mainers infielder Marlon Calbi remained at Goodall Hospital in Sanford after being stricken Sunday with what is believed to be acute pancreatitis.

“He’s really upset at the way he’s had to leave,” said pitcher Kyle Helisek, who also is Calbi’s teammate at Villanova. “But he gave us something to play for.”