Right fielder Nick Howie reaches first base after delivering an RBI single in the fifth inning (SAM BONSEY/Journal Tribune)

SANFORD — After an emotional 12-11 comeback win over the Upper Valley Nighthawks Thursday night, the Sanford Mainers didn’t have the energy it needed against the Keene Swamp Bats on a muggy Friday night in Sanford.

Kyle Ball hit a two-run home run, Will Wagner drove in four runs, and the Swamp Bats broke the game open, scoring five times in the second inning to cruise past the Mainers 14-4 in an NECBL baseball game at Goodall Park.

“We’ve had a long stretch,” said Sanford right fielder Nick Howie. “Yesterday was a four-hour game, and it was a good win. But I think today, our energy just wasn’t there.”

Keene out-hit Sanford 17-8.

The Mainers, who are in the middle of a eight-game, seven day stretch, went ahead 1-0 in the first off Keene starter Antonio Knowles when Shane Marshall singled in Erick Stock. The single extended Marshall’s hitting streak to nine games, but Sanford’s lead vanished in the second.

With the bases loaded, Will Wagner ripped a double to left center to clear the bases and give the Swamp Bats a 4-1 lead off Sanford starter Ryan Twitchell, who was making his first appearance of the season. Logan Mathieu followed with a single, scoring Wagner, to extend the lead.

That was all Knowles needed as the lanky right hander allowed two runs over 5 ⅔ innings on right hits and two walks while striking out seven to earn his first win of the season.

Twitchell lasted two innings and allowed five runs on five walks and two hits.

“The big thing today was just the free bases we let up,” Howie said. “I think we really need to limit those. We can take a few hits here and there, but when the walks build up, it just kind of roller coasters into four or five run innings.”

Keene (20-13) struck again in the fifth when Ball hit his two-run shot over the left field wall off reliever Pat Petteruti. Ryan Hogan added an RBI double, scoring Andrew MacNeil, to make it 8-1.

Sanford (13-21) cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning, when Howie singled up the middle to score Jack Van Remortel, but Keene responded with a four-run sixth behind a two-run double from  David Matthews to make 12-2. 

The Mainers added two more runs in the seventh when Erick Stock scored on a wild pitch and Connor Tate drove in Drew DeMartino on a groundout.

The Swamp Bats, however, strung together four straight hits in the eighth to add two more runs and regain a double digit lead. 

Marcus Golden added three hits for Keene, while Andrew MacNeil had two and three runs scored.

Stock and Tate each finished with two hits for the Mainers. 

“The hitting, I think, has been pretty decent,” Howie said. “But we just need to limit these big innings if we’re going to make a run.”

SEARCHING FOR CONSISTENCY: With the loss, Sanford is now 1-12 in games after a win.

UP NEXT: Sanford heads to Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire to take on the Muskrats (8-22) tonight at 6:05 p.m. at Robbie Mills Sports Complex.


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