WATERVILLE — Franklin County took care of business on Monday night. But business proved tougher Tuesday.

Needing a win to secure a Zone 2 playoff spot, Franklin did not play like a playoff-bound team against Waterville. The host Beavers had 13 hits, and defeated Franklin County, 17-12 at Gaul Field.

Amato’s of Rockland defeated South China Subway on Tuesday, and Franklin (8-8) is now tied with Amato’s for the fourth and final playoff spot. The teams will have a play-in game at 5:30 p.m., Thursday in Augusta. The Zone 2 tournament is Saturday through Monday in Augusta.

“We didn’t play like we did last night,” Franklin coach Dan Stefanilo said. “We’ve got to play our game.”

Things were tough for Franklin from the start. In the first inning, no one noticed that Jimmy Neal had taken ball four, and he struck on the next pitch. After Waterville (4-11) scored four runs in the bottom of the first, the Flyers got three back but had runners cut down at third and home on close plays.

In the bottom of the second, Franklin reliever Eli Capen was called for a balk. Stefanilo was nearly ejected after the call, and Flyers center fielder Tim Smith was tossed after Waterville’s Tyler Bouchard followed with an RBI double.

“I don’t think it’s an excuse,” Stefanilo said. “Waterville played better. They deserved everything that they got today.”

Franklin regrouped and took a 7-6 lead in the top of the third, but Waterville never let up offensively. The Beavers went ahead to stay with five runs in the bottom of the third, including a two-run homer by J.T. Whitten. Bouchard had three hits and two stolen bases and scored five runs, while Josh Gaudette went 3 for 3 and drove in six runs.

Waterville also got some contributions from its lesser-known players, as Tom Cox, Brian Bellows and Ben Cox, batting 7-8-9 in the order, each scored a run. The Beavers have gone with several young players in every game.

“These kids came to play every game, knowing sometimes they were outmatched,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said. “They’re putting their best effort on the field. They’re not embarrassed by it. They just know what level they need to get to next. It’s a good lesson to learn.”

It was Gaudette who appeared to have beaten the Flyers down for good in the bottom of the fifth when his line drive was misplayed into a three-run triple to put Waterville up 14-7. But Franklin struck back in the sixth on a string of singles, walks and errors, plus a double by Nick Hilton. When Hilton scored on a wild pitch, it was 14-12 and the tying run was at the plate.

Bouchard left the mound for Waterville at that point with one of the strangest pitching lines you’ll ever see — 5 2/3 innings, 12 runs, zero earned. Gaudette moved from shortstop to the mound and struck out the next batter to end the inning. After Gaudette hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, he struck out the side in the seventh, getting all three batters looking.

Stefanilo said the Flyers should have a good amount of pitching available Thursday.

“I think we focus in on the things that we did that were positive all year long, and we try to show up and execute those things the same way we have,” Stefanilo said. “We’re a good team, and I think that when we play the way we’re capable of playing, we can play with these teams.”

Lincoln 14, Gardiner/Post 204 4, 5 innings: Jason Weatherbee had two home runs, a double and six RBIs as Lincoln won in Gardiner.

Ben McLain and Dalton Leeman each added a double and a single for Lincoln. Josh Prue added a triple.

Brett Turcotte and Spencer Allen both doubled for Gardiner (10-6).

Post 51 13, Madison 4: Sam Dexter had double, a home run, a single and four RBIs as Post 51 cruised in Waterville.

Matt Woodbury added a triple, a home run and three RBIs for Post 51 (12-3).

Tyler Blanchette had two singles and two RBIs for Madison (2-14).


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