Whether it was by luck or design that the starting pitcher for Monday’s crucial regular-season finale at Gray-New Gloucester was Peter LaMagna isn’t important. What was important was that LaMagna, who three weeks earlier had shut out the Patriots, saw no need to change the game plan the second time around.

Working quickly and efficiently, the junior right-hander limited the Patriots to two hits in a complete game 5-1 win.

The win clinched a playoff spot for the Falcons (7-9) and also moved them slightly ahead of the Patriots (9-7) in the Heal Points standings, although a few games remain to be played in Western B on Tuesday.

“First, the defense was definitely making plays for me,” LaMagna said. “I was just throwing strikes. You could see when they hit the ball, our defense makes plays. When you’re throwing strikes, it’s easier to get good plays out there.”

“We played Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He pitched on Thursday, so of our three starters, he was the only one eligible today,” Freeport coach Bill Ridge said. “So he had to come back on short rest, and he was willing to do it because he knew this was (about making) playoffs or not.”

LaMagna struck out seven and walked one. He also starred offensively for the Falcons, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored and three stolen bases.

He drove in the game’s first run in the top of the first, although some heads-up base running by Niko DeFazio helped put the pressure on GNG starter Brandon Hubbard. DiFazio (two hits) singled with one out, stole second, then caught the Patriots napping and took third before another pitch was delivered. After a line out to first, LaMagna drove him home with a single to left.

The Falcons were 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts.

“That’s something we’ve done a lot this year because our bats haven’t been going quite as well as we want, so we’re aggressive on the bases to try and make up for that,” Ridge said.

Jack Davenport’s sacrifice fly and an error made it 3-0 in the third.

LaMagna, meanwhile, didn’t allow a hit until Justin McKenna launched one over the right fielder’s head for a stand-up triple with one out in the fourth.

The Patriots were fortunate to get McKenna across for their only run, as he wandered too far off third on a safety squeeze attempt. But when the catcher’s throw sailed high over the third baseman’s head, he was able to trot home.

“You’re not going to beat anybody on two hits,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Brad Smith said. “And the run that did score was a ‘thank you.’ We don’t score clusters of runs against good pitching, so we have to look for opportunities.”

LaMagna didn’t allow many more of those. He surrendered a leadoff single by Evan Farmer in the fifth, then retired the final nine batters of the game. Nice defensive plays by DiFazio at shortstop and Caleb Rice in left helped him make quick work of the Patriots in 68 pitches.

“You get into a rhythm. It’s nice to be efficient and not throw too many pitches,” LaMagna said. “I don’t like throwing over 100 pitches. It’s no fun. It takes awhile, too.”

“He’s been one of two pitchers this year,” Ridge said. “He’s been that pitcher, where he pounds the mitt and gets ahead, and he’s very dominant. On some days, he doesn’t throw a ton of strikes and he gets himself into trouble. So it was good that ‘Peter A’ today.”

The Falcons added an unearned run in the fifth and LaMagna’s second RBI single in the seventh.

Both teams are likely headed for a prelim next week. Whether they get to host or not may depend upon a handful of games in Western B that remain on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids,” said Smith, whose team got a boost from junior Tyler St. Pierre’s 17-strikeout no-hitter against Fryeburg last Friday. “Of course, now everybody’s checking the Heal Points. We’re hoping we’ve got a shot. I told the kids right now, win or lose, it’s a new season for us.”

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