SANFORD, MAINE – Seven runs over the first three innings allowed the Sanford Mainers to comfortably coast to a 17-5 blowout victory over the Vermont Mountaineers on Saturday night in the final regular season game at Goodall Park for the season.
Fresh off of his Pitcher of the Week nod Steven Rice (Vanderbilt) hit the mound for his first start of the season (after fourteen relief appearances) and was up the task, holding the Mountaineers to three runs over six innings.
“He’s a workhorse,” said Sanford Manager Aaron Izaryk of Rice. “I knew he would do a good job, but I didn’t know he’s do that good of a job. He’s a bulldog out there.”
Through a steady rain the Mainers peppered the Vermont staff, collecting 18 hits on the night, scoring in seven of their eight at-bats and driving in four runs by way of the sacrifice fly.
The conditions led to bouts of sloppiness on both sides, but Sanford was capable of capitalizing on their opportunities, even going so far as to hold runners at third base late in the game so as not to show up the visitors.
Things did get a bit testy in the top half of the eighth inning when Vermont’s Michael White (Louisville) slid spikes up into second base on a double play attempt.
White was called for runner’s interference and the double play was upheld, but a crowd of Sanford players were quick to let him know of their displeasure with his slide. Nothing would come of the matter.
Ino Patron (Long Beach State), Anthony Hajjar (Fairfield) and Gavin Stark (Missouri) all collected three hits and three RBIs for the Mainers.
NOTES: The Mainers clinched a playoff spot on Friday night when they took the first game of a doubleheader, 16-2, against the Mystic Schooners. Sanford is mere percentage points behind third-place Laconia and they will play five games on the road over the next four days to finish out their regular season.
It was ‘Host Family Appreciation Night’ at Goodall Park, giving the organization the opportunity to thank the local families that housed and took care of the players for the season. Always a heartfelt gesture.
Mainers General Manager John Webb presented SS Jose Torralba (Canisius) with the Neil Olson Award prior to the game. The award is named in honor of Sanford’s first GM and Webb explained that it is presented to the “player who best exemplifies the spirit and enthusiasm of Sanford Mainers.” Torralba was on the Mainers a year ago, but was forced to leave the team early with an injury. In his return he is batting .277 with 12 RBIs, 15 runs and 8 stolen bases.
After the game I spoke with Vermont's Aaron Barbosa (Northeastern) and Sanford's Matt Horan (Franklin Pierce), so expect more on them in the coming days.
You can reach Craig Forde via email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @BeyondFenway.
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