The University of Southern Maine received an at-large selection Monday for the NCAA Division III baseball tournament despite losing five of its final six games.

The Huskies (27-13) will travel to Auburn, New York, to play in an eight-team regional hosted by SUNY-Cortland. USM is the third seed in the region and will open against No. 6 Amherst (24-12), the NESCAC champion, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I kind of thought we’d get in but I was worried about it,” said Ed Flaherty, who won his 1,000th career game in his 33rd season as the Huskies coach on May 2.

“The reason I thought we were going to get in was because our record was strong and our strength of schedule was one of the top in the country.”

The worry came from losing three of four after Flaherty’s 1,000th win to finish the regular season and then getting bounced from the double-elimination Little East Conference tournament in two games. USM lost to Rhode Island College, 7-3, and eventual league champ UMass Boston, 6-1.

The Huskies were outscored 35-18 over their last six games.

“We finished about as bad as you could. You hope it’s a slump. It’s mostly the hitting,” Flaherty said. “The kids we have, they’re good athletes. You tend to have three that are hot, three middle and three cold and it kind of fluctuates throughout the year. What happened in the (LEC) tournament, you pretty much got all nine of them cold.”

Southern Maine was ranked 22nd nationally in the NCBWA/ poll, which was released last Tuesday before the Little East tourney. SUNY-Cortland, the top seed in the New York region, was ranked No. 9 nationally and Salisbury, the second seed, was ranked No. 15.

This 24th time USM has played in the NCAAs since its first trip in 1987. The Huskies won national titles in 1991 and 1997 and have advanced to eight College World Series under Flaherty.

USM was also in the New York region last season. The Huskies won four games before falling to Oswego, 9-4, in the championship game.

A total of 58 teams were selected to this year’s Division III tournament: 40 conference champions and 18 at-large selections. The tournament begins at eight regional sites, with each using a double-elimination format. The eight regional winners advance to the double-elimination World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin from May 25-29.

USM won regional titles most recently in 2013 and 2014.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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