Ashburnham’s Gavin Strand, 2, and grandfather John Boutwell, of Townsend, walk back to the game after getting a hot dog. 	SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE /
Ashburnham's Gavin Strand, 2, and grandfather John Boutwell, of Townsend, walk back to the game after getting a hot dog. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / SCOTT LAPRADE

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LEOMINSTER -- A two-out, sixth-inning rally featuring a few hits strung together gave Leominster the ammo it needed against North Middlesex Regional pitcher Tony Sylvester, running the righty from the bump in the process as the Blue Devils clinched a postseason tourney spot -- their first under head coach Rich Barnaby -- with a 3-1 win over the Patriots in a Coaches vs. Cancer game at Pin Cannavino Field Friday night.

The win lifts Leominster to 10-3, with a biggie against Mid-Wach A foe Wachusett Regional slated for Tuesday in Holden. North Middlesex (7-5) hosts Fitchburg Monday and plays Quabbin Regional on Wednesday.

Leominster’s Jay Valera dives safely back to the bag in front of North Middlesex first baseman Richie Sharp. 	SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / SCOTT
Leominster's Jay Valera dives safely back to the bag in front of North Middlesex first baseman Richie Sharp. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / SCOTT LAPRADE

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With two outs in the sixth and sixth hitter Brett Corliss, who walked, standing on third following a stolen base and a loose ball in the area of second, seventh hitter Jordan Mays ripped his second hit of the game, a hard line drive down the left-field line, to bring Corliss in with the eventual game-winning run.

"(Mays) has been awesome," said Barnaby. "He's in a tough role: He's a DH for when Tanner (Jakola) is pitching, so he only plays once a week. But as of right now, he's hitting .350 and he got the clutch hit with two outs, which is what good hitters do."

"We came up against a hot team," North Middlesex skipper Tom Bartelson said. "They got us where the batting order was in their favor. They did their jobs, and we didn't."

Nick Cordio followed with a base hit to right to put runners at first and second, ending Sylvester's night at 103 pitches, three strikeouts and four hits. David Barry then doubled in pinch-runner Chris Piper to round out the scoring.

That was enough for Jakola, who was the pitcher of record after throwing five two-hit innings where he had to battle falling behind in the count. He threw 80 pitches, fanning three Patriots and retiring 10 straight before he gave way to Neil O'Connor.

"Tanner had an emotional win against St. Peter-Marian," Barnaby said, "and he came back on five days' rest. He didn't have his best stuff, but he battles and leaned on the defense a bit. He's been awesome, and when you put a senior out there, that's what you expect."

O'Connor fanned five of the nine hitters he faced, allowing three baserunners and stranding all of them.

It was a pitchers' duel, as both Jakola and Syvlester dealt with a rather generous strike zone roughly the size of a Buick. Jakola's two hits allowed came early, the second of which was off the bat of Jimmy Ciampa to drive in John Boutwell with the lone North Middlesex run.

"They both showed the perseverance of being good pitchers," Bartelson said. "It was a pitchers' duel up until the sixth, and we made a couple of mistakes in the sixth. When you make mistakes against a team like Leominster, you pay for it. And we paid for it.

"(Sylvester) kept us in the game for six innings, and he did his job and what we expected of him. When he's on the mound, we expect to be competing for a victory."

"Tony's unbelievable, and a pitcher like him, you're only going to have one or two chances to score," Barnaby said of Sylvester.

Leominster promptly tied it in the top of the third, as Ryan Lever, who reached on a fly ball that caromed off the glove of the shortstop while ranging into the outfield for a flare, scored on O'Connor's grounder to second.

The game raised $303 in the name of Gavin Strand, the precocious -- and precious -- 2-year-old nephew of North Middlesex junior third baseman Boutwell. Young Gavin, who will turn 3 on June 14, stood on the lip of the infield grass and threw a strike to Uncle Johnny with both teams on the base lines during a pregame ceremony.

"Every person is going to be affected by cancer at some point in their life," Barnaby said, "and this is just a way for the kids to feel like they're fighting back. It was a good night for these two communities."

Gavin, who was diagnosed with leukemia, is in remission.

Follow Sean Sweeney on Twitter @MrSeanMSweeney