07/14/2019 7:48 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators enter the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s All-Star Break with momentum after advancing to a tie-breaking Home Run Derby for the second time this season and earning an 8-7 victory over the Bristol Blues on Sunday night at Fraser Field.
North Shore took a 1.5-game lead over Pittsfield atop the FCBL standings after winning their fourth straight game, improving to 23-17 on the season. Bristol slipped to 19-18.
Center fielder Sean Lawlor (Flagler) hit the fourth pitch of his Derby at-bat over the wall in right to lift the Navs to victory after Bristol did not record a single homer during its three-minute round. During the 10-inning game, third baseman Andrew Olszak (Southern Maine) went 3-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI, while Lawlor also had a pair of hits.
North Shore had to come back to extend its win streak after the visiting Blues put up a crooked number right off the bat, scoring four runs on three hits and two errors in the first inning. Matt Bergeron (Saint Joseph’s of Maine) was the first of eight Navs pitchers to appear as part of a predetermined staff day.
Center fielder Austin White (Rhode Island) reached on a leadoff error and immediately scored on left fielder Christian Beal’s (Bates) double to the fence. First baseman Dylan Reynolds (Fairfield) provided the biggest blow of the opening frame with a one-out, two-run double before catcher Sam Loda (Central Connecticut) added another run-scoring hit.
The Navs got three runs back while logging four hits ― all with two outs ― against Bristol starter Matt Shane (Central Connecticut) an inning later. Second baseman John Rodriguez (San Jacinto) ignited the offense with a triple to into the right-center gap and scored on catcher Nolan Watson’s (Dayton) knock up the middle. After left fielder Colin Wetterau (St. John’s) was hit by a pitch, Olszak and Lawlor knocked home runs for the home team.
Bristol added its fifth run when shortstop Zeke Diamond (Emory) hit a two-out single in the third, but the Navs put up their second crooked number of the night with a four-run fourth. Eight Navs batters stepped to the plate for the second time in three innings as they flipped the score to 7-5.
Rodriguez led off the high-scoring frame with a walk and advanced on Wetterau’s one-out infield single. Olszak flared a base hit to right before Lawlor’s double over Bristol right fielder Brandon Miller’s (St. John’s) head tied the game. After first baseman Dominic Freeberger’s (UNC Asheville) grounder to short gave North Shore a one-run lead, right fielder Kade Kretzschmar (Dartmouth) extended it with a double.
Hunter Wilichoski (Northern Essex CC) and Parker Browne (Suffolk) put up zeroes out of the North Shore bullpen, but the Blues were able to tie the game with Loda’s one-out triple and designated hitter Kasey Bass’ (Wisconsin-Stout) sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Recent Saugus High School grad Todd Tringale (UMass) struck out two in the eighth during his first home appearance. Harry Painter (UMass Lowell) stranded two Blues on base in the ninth and worked through the following frame in the minimum three batters after Watson caught Miller stealing after a one-out walk.
Bristol reliever Tommy Hughes (Southern Connecticut) stymied the Navs for the majority of his 5.1-inning outing, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before Lawlor drew a two-out walk in the ninth. Kretzschmar opened the extra inning with a single to center before pinch hitter Ben Malgeri (Holy Cross) was hit by a pitch, but a pickoff ended the threat and sent the game to the tiebreaking Derby.
Bass and third baseman Buddy Dewaine (Central Connecticut) failed to hit a homer for Bristol, so Lawlor needed just one swing of the bat to win the Derby and game for the Navs. It was North Shore’s first Derby triumph this season and its fourth in franchise history over the last two-plus seasons.
Following Tuesday’s FCBL All-Star Game at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass., the Navs will return to regular-season action next Thursday when the Westfield Starfires visit Fraser Field for a 7 p.m. contest.