SANFORD — One-run games have not been kind to the Sanford Mainers this season. Neither has extra innings.

On Friday night, they combined to send the Mainers to a tough 4-3 defeat to division rival Mystic.

With the game tied at three all heading into the top of the 11th, Mystic’s Adam Touhey singled to right center and advanced to second as Anthony Papio couldn’t corral the ball.

The mistake was compounded by another right after, as Sanford pitcher Steven Rice fielded Brandon Lopez’s bunt and fired a rocket to third in an attempt to gun down Touhey.

Problem was, Touhey was still on the second base bag.

“I kind of hurt myself,” Rice said. “Someone was saying one, but I had three in my head. When I picked it up I thought for sue he was going to go to third and it didn’t work out. It was just one of those heat of the moment things.”

After getting a strike out, Rice then walked Matt O’Herron to load the bases, and Alec Keller’s weak grounder to second couldn’t be turned for the double play as the Schooners took a 4-3 lead.

Rice got out of the inning without any more damage, but Mystic’s Pat Egan worked a perfect bottom half of the inning to send Sanford tumbling to its 14th defeat of the season, with the Mainers now sitting three game out of the fourth and final Eastern Division playoff spot.

Six of those have come by one run, and three of those were in extra innings.

“Obviously we’d love a big hit, but we’re not playing bad baseball right now,” Sanford manager Aaron Izaryk said. “This is the first game in a while where we’ve competed in all 11 innings. All the guys were upset at the end. We’re snake bit a little bit, but there’s things to do that we can fix it.”

The loss was all the more painful considering Sanford’s two sterling opportunities to win the game down the stretch.

In the seventh Anthony Simon had singled to lead off the inning and gotten to third on a pass ball and Kyle Moore’s sacrifice bunt, but was left stranded as Sam Balzano could only ground out to a drawn-in infield.

Then in the ninth Anthony Papio worked a leadoff walk and eventually found himself at third with two outs, but Robert Wayman went fishing on a ball way out of the strike zone to send the game into extras.

“I’d rather him go down swinging than looking,” Izaryk said. “The umpire was kind of wide and big tonight, and we had to hit in that zone. I think Robert was trying to keep himself in play and buy himself another pitch and just didn’t execute there.”

Mystic (14-11) had taken a 2-0 lead after two as three infield singles and two wild pitches hurt Sanford starter Conor Krauss.

But the Mainers battled back, scoring in the bottom of the second when Anthony Papio’s singled in Nic Wilson, and then again in the third as Wilson drove in Sam Balzano.

The Schooner took back the lead in the fifth when Brandon Cipilla drilled a Krauss fastball over the 378 foot mark on the center field wall, but Balzano’s second infield single of the game turned into Sanford’s third run of the game as Connor Castellano blooped one into right to bring Balzano across in the bottom of the fifth.

From there it was a battle of the bullpens, both of which gave up just one hit over the next five innings until Touhey’s hit in the 11th was the beginning of the end.

The Mainers will be back in action tonight, when they head to Holyoke to take on the Blue Sox at 6:35. They’ll then be back at Goodall on Monday for a doubleheader against Newport, slated to begin at 3:30.

 MOOSE TRACKS: Friday night’s announced attendance was a season-high 560”¦Rice drops to 3-1 on the season”¦James Bourque will get the start on Saturday in Holyoke. The right-hander out of the University of Michigan is 0-2 in five appearances on the season, compiling a 2.77 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 22.2 innings.

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 323.



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