AUBURN — The situation was all too familiar.

Down by a few runs early in the game for the third time in less than a week, Auburn Suburban Little League’s 11- and 12-year-old all-star softball squad tried to dig itself out of the hole again Thursday.

But it seemed like they were using spoons when they needed shovels.

ASLL rallied for two runs in the third inning and another in the sixth, but its hopes ended with two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth and final inning as Calais successfully protected an early five-run lead to advance to the tournament final with a 5-3 victory over the host team.

“They’re sound defensively, their pitcher threw a good game, and she was around the plate,” Auburn coach Bill Reynolds said. “That one inning, that’s what killed us.”

“We had pretty good pitching and our defense has been solid,” Calais coach Greg Smith said. “We’re all very proud of our defense.”

Calais jumped on Auburn starter Emily Schario early, plating three runs on two hits, a walk and two errors in the first inning — all with two outs.

“You get two outs and two strike on the batter, then a base hit and an error, and then an error at third and then one the fielder never moved on, just uncharacteristic things for this team,” Reynolds said, “but hey, that’s the way it goes.

Schario stopped the bleeding with her third strikeout of the inning, only to have Calais tack on two more in the second on three solid hits from Jordan Hatch, Mallory Black and Olivia Smith, whose double drove in Hatch and Black.

“In the three games we’ve played, we’ve been the visitors,” Greg Smith said. “It’s been key, getting out to early leads.”

Olivia Smith was also solid in the circle, allowing just three hits in a six-inning effort, two of which came in the final inning as ASLL tried to rally.

“We went with our ace, and we were able to do that because of the rainouts and the day off,” Greg Smith said. “We’re more solid in the field with her on the mound and our defense set the way that it was.”

After falling behind 5-0, Auburn started their comeback effort. Calli Murray and Danielle Rock each took a free pass from Smith, and Kory Norcross belted a double to drive both teammates home to cut the lead to 5-2.

After being set down in order in each of the next two innings, Rock walked to lead off the sixth, and reached second on a Norcross groundout. Schario reached on a fielder’s choice and both she and Rock moved ahead one base on a grounder to first by Kylie Martin.

Brooke Reynolds plated Rock with a single and took second uncontested on the first pitch to Olivia Paione.

Smith struck Paieone out to end the threat, and the ballgame.

Calais will meet South Portland in the state final, and would have to win twice to claim the state crown. South Portland, the lone remaining undefeated team in the tourney, needs only to win once.

Auburn Suburban Little League’s Danielle Rock gets safely back to second guarded by Calais’ Mallory Black as she is chased down by Kate Cundiff Thursday in Auburn. Auburn lost 5-3.

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