LACONIA — Needing a win or at the very least some good luck to clinch a NECBL Eastern Division playoff spot on the last night of the regular season, the Mustangs got neither. The combination of Friday's 5-2 loss to Sanford at Robbie Mills Field and a 5-1 Mystic win over Plymouth (Mass.) secured a third place finish for the Connecticut team and a fourth place tie between Laconia and Sanford.
Mystic finished at 22-22, while the Muskrats and the Mainers deadlocked at 21-23.
A one game play-in game is now necessary and it will be played Saturday night in Sanford at 6:30.
The winner of the Laconia-Sanford game will open a best of three, first round playoff series at division winner Newport (30-14) on Sunday. Second place Ocean State (24-20) will host Mystic in the other Eastern Division first round series.
The second game in each series will be played on Monday night on the home field of the lower seeded team. Scores and other information about game times will be available online at www.necbl.com.
Laconia took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning against Sanford last night but the Mainers tied the game in the next to last frame and then pushed across 3 more runs in the top of the 9th.
Evan Rahn (Wheaton) pitched 7 and 2/3 innings for Laconia, scattering 8 hits and giving up just one earned run. He was relieved by Jacob Moody, who took the loss.
Moody got two outs in the ninth before Robert Wayman reached on a throwing error by shortstop Carter White (U Memphis), who is primarily a catcher, and Nate LaPointe scored the go-ahead run from second base. Troy Black then doubled home the second run of the inning and an error on left fielder Taylor Drake (McNeese St.) allowed the third run to score.
Laconia managed just 5 hits. Right fielder Eddie Macaluso (listed on the roster as a pitcher) had 2 hits and drove in a run.
All Star second baseman Joe Torres (Iona) scored Laconia's first run a a fielders choice in the fourth. Third baseman Nick Freeberger (Hartford CC) led off the seventh inning with a single and later scored on a single by Macaluso.