08/05/2019 8:45 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- The third-seeded North Shore Navigators live to play another round in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League postseason after coming from behind to earn an 8-7 win over the Nashua Silver Knights in Monday night’s single-elimination, opening-round contest at Fraser Field.
Designated hitter Logan Bravo (Harvard) hit a three-run home run to cap a four-run rally in the seventh inning before Marblehead native Beau Dana (Dickinson) recorded a six-out save in North Shore’s first playoff appearance since 2016.
The win also lifts the Navs, who finished the regular season with a 30-25 record and were 1.5 games behind Brockton and Bristol at the top of the standings, to their first semifinal appearance since 2016. North Shore will play against second-seeded Bristol in a best-of-three semifinal series, with the opening game set for Tuesday night at Muzzy Field.
Third baseman Andrew Olszak (Southern Maine) and center fielder Ben Malgeri (Holy Cross) both had multiple hits for the Navs who recorded 10 as a team. On the mound, Virginia Tech commit Griffin Green worked around two hits and a run to earn his first collegiate win.
The Silver Knights came out swinging over the first two innings, tallying four hits in each frame to take a commanding 5-0 lead that chased North Shore starter and Swampscott native Gavin Sullivan (Stetson) from the game after just five outs.
Four consecutive Nashua runners reached base to start the game. After center fielder Ben Irvine (Maryland) and designated hitter Dylan Jones (Franklin Pierce) singled and moved up on a balk, right fielder Kyle Sandstrom (Charleston Southern) hit a single to right to score them both for the first two runs of the game.
Nashua catcher and St. John’s Prep alum Jack Arend (Bates) led off the second inning with a double and scored on a Jones sacrifice fly. Tyler Fitzgerald (Keene State) relieved Sullivan after Sandstrom and third baseman Phoenix Hernandez (Southern New Hampshire) recorded back-to-back hits. Left fielder Jared Dupere (Northeastern) proceeded to hit a two-run single.
North Shore responded with three runs over the next two innings, beginning with first baseman Connor Morin’s (New England College) two-run home run to deep right field in the last of the second. Olszak opened the following frame with a leadoff single, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on right fielder Dominic Freeberger’s (UNC Asheville) grounder to third.
Fitzgerald settled down in a big way after allowing Dupere’s hit on his first pitch. He did allow Irvine to score an unearned run on a fourth-inning passed ball, but the Peabody native worked 4.1 innings of two-hit ball to keep the Navs in the ballgame.
The Navs forced Nashua starter Evan Christopulos (Bentley) to exit the game in the midst of a run-scoring fourth inning. Morin opened the frame with a one-out walk before scoring on an error that followed catcher Colin Wetterau’s (St. John’s) infield single.
North Shore recorded three scoreless innings before scoring four times on three hits in the seventh. Silver Knight reliever Kyle Skidmore (Hofstra) struck out Wetterau to begin the frame before Olszak started the offense with a single to left.
Left fielder Sean Lawlor (Flagler) reached on Arend’s throwing error before Freeberger dropped a two-out single into shallow center in advance of Bravo’s towering homer just to the left of the batter’s eye. The long ball came in the first at-bat against another Nashua bullpen arm in Joseph Quintal (Fordham).
An eighth-inning wild pitch scored Dupere after a leadoff single. First baseman Mike La Rocca (Southern New Hampshire) grounded into one of Nashua’s three double plays, helping Dana limit the inning’s damage to one run. Dana finished two innings of hitless ball with two strikeouts, the latter of which was a 1-2-3 frame against the top of the Nashua order.