MANSFIELD, CONN. — The University of Southern Maine baseball team is headed to the Little East Conference championship and Gardiner graduate Forrest Chadwick is a big reason why.

The Huskies’ senior went 3-for-3 with three runs scored in a 10-0 win over Rhode Island College in eight innings Friday afternoon at Eastern Stadium, and later in the day, belted a pair of solo home runs in a 3-2 victory over UMass-Dartmouth.

Second-seeded USM will now play No. 1 Eastern Connecticut today at 11 a.m. in the finals, however, since the Huskies are coming out of the loser’s bracket they will have to beat the Warriors twice if they hope to claim their third straight LEC title.

In the opener Friday, the Huskies opened things up with six runs in the top of the third with Chadwick starting the scoring parade when he tripled home Messalonskee grad Sam Dexter, who went 4-for-5 with two runs scored himself.

A double from Chris Bernard and single from Matt Verrier plated two more runs, but the big blow came courtesy of Troy Thibodeau’s three-run homer to left later in the inning. The seven runs between the second and third inning proved more than enough for former Erskine standout Shyler Scates, who tossed a complete-game, six-hit shutout with three strikeouts.

Later in the evening against the Corsairs, USM fell behind after UMass-Dartmouth plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to chase starter Zack Bean from the game.

Solo shots from Chadwick in the fourth and sixth innings tied the game up, though, and Jake Glauser’s single to left in the top of the ninth brought home Verrier for what proved to be the winning run. Andrew Richards picked up the win on the mound after tossing 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.