By: Caden Charpentier – Media Operations Coordinator

The Newport Gulls (30-15) and the Sanford Mainers (23-22) battled in a back and forth affair at Cardines Field in Monday’s single-elimination Wild Card Game. Sanford jumped out to an early lead, and Newport’s season came to a close with just its fifth loss at Cardines Field this summer at the hands of the Mainers, 9-7.

Sanford began the contest with two runs in the top of the inning, but the Newport offense found a way to respond just like it has all season. Slate Alford’s league-leading 16th double of the summer brought in Kolton Freeman from second to score the first run for Newport, cutting the Mainers’ lead in half in the blink of an eye. 

The call and response continued, and after a scoreless second inning all around, Sanford would go on to open the contest up with four runs in the top of the third. Before the Mainers had a chance to try to extend their lead even more the next time around, the Gulls had an answer. 

With two on and just one out, Noah Martinez found a gap in left centerfield to bring in the second Newport run of the ballgame. Following a passed ball that gave the Gulls another run back, Alec Makarewicz blasted his first hit with a double off the wall. It was one of three hits for the East Carolina Pirate, and brought the Gulls within two heading into the fourth inning. 

In the fifth, Sanford would collect another three runs behind a two-run home run, putting the pressure on Newport to fight back. The Gulls did just that, equaling the Mainers’ run total from the top inning. Martinez gave the offense the spark it needed, crushing a solo home run for his fifth long ball of the summer over the right-centerfield fence. Newport would go on to add another two runs behind a single by Trent Farquhar, and a sacrifice groundout that would end up being the last of the contest for both teams. 

Out of the bullpen, Wright State’s Garrett Simpson pitched two 1-2-3 innings, collecting three punchouts, and allowing just three hits in 3.1 innings of work. Vanderbilt Commodore Ryan Ginther put together a spotless outing to keep the Gulls in it. Ginther pitched the final 2.2 innings, allowing no runs on just one hit while walking two batters, keeping the determined Sanford lineup at bay to end the game. 

Newport’s remarkable 30-win season comes to a close in the first round of the NECBL playoffs. The Mainers move on to face their division rivals, the Vermont Mountaineers in a best-of-three series that begins in Montpelier at Montpelier Recreation Field.