SANFORD – A pitcher’s duel went the way of the Mystic Schooners on a scenic Saturday night at Goodall Park. The Mainers gave their opposition all they could handle, but a combination of bad luck and a collection of clutch Schooner performances sunk the Moose down the stretch.

Mainer pitchers had the difficult task of shutting down a red-hot Schooner offense, and the four arms who graced the mound were equal to the challenge. Trevor LaBonte (York, Maine/Maryland) started things off and displayed the mental toughness that helped him earn a spot in the Terrapin rotation as a true freshman. After three of the first four batters he faced hit singles, he dug deep and punched out the next two Schooners to leave the bases loaded. LaBonte racked up four strikeouts in total, leaving the game after four innings, allowing two runs, of which only one was earned.

He would leave with a no-decision in large part to the early production by the Mainer offense. For the second consecutive game, the Moose struck for a pair of runs in the second inning. Following a Jack Van Remortel (Carmel, Ind./Michigan) walk, Robbie Armitage (Falmouth, Maine/Marist College) deposited a William Jackson fastball into left-center field, bringing the Wolverine home. Ryan Daues (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif./Tufts) kept the line moving with an infield single, setting up a Sterling Hayes(San Diego, Calif./Vanderbilt) RBI base hit.

For the next five innings, Nick Laster (Atlanta, Ga./Eastern Kentucky), Rhett Gay (Twin City, Ga./Georgia Southern), and Nolan Wilson (Atlanta, Ga./Virginia Tech) combined to keep Mystic bats at bay. The bullpen trio allowed just three hits and compiled five strikeouts, keeping the Mainers in the game down the stretch.

However, the Schooners broke the deadlock in the seventh inning. With one away, Matt Toke ripped a line-drive single into center field and advanced to third on an error. It looked like the Mainers would escape with a tie score after Gay coaxed a weak groundout to third out of Shane Kelly. But, after working a three-one count, designated hitter Nolan Kessinger lined a double down the right-field like to bring home the team’s third run, giving them a lead they would not relinquish.

In the game’s final innings, the Mainers looked destined to level the score. With two outs in the seventh inning and pinch runner Reece Armitage (Falmouth, Maine/Marist College) standing on second base, second baseman Drew DeMartino poked a single over the head of his Schooner infield counterpart. Third base coach Nick Lops (South Portland, Maine/St. Joe’s College of Maine) elected to send Armitage home, but he was thrown out on a close play at the plate by right fielder Conor Nolan.

The very next inning, Elliott Curtis (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada/Kentucky) led off with a single and advanced 180 feet to third base on a wild pitch just moments later. With three chances to get him in, the Moose could not capitalize.

The game ended in a 3-2 loss, the team’s second in 2019.  Meanwhile, the Schooners improved to 4-0, their best start to a season since 2013.

The Moose have an off day tomorrow but will conclude their opening week homestand against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats on Monday at 6:30 p.m.

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