07/10/2019 8:12 PM
By Joshua Kummins
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Suns scored in five straight innings to begin the game and never looked back on Wednesday night at Wahconah Park, holding off the visiting North Shore Navigators for a 7-3 win in Futures Collegiate Baseball League action.
North Shore slipped to 19-17 with its second straight loss, while Pittsfield improved to 20-13 and became the first FCBL team to reach the 20-win mark this season. The Suns have a two-game advantage at the top of the standings, with Worcester, Brockton, and the Navs all tied just a half-game behind second-place Bristol.
First baseman Dominic Freeberger (UNC Asheville) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI to help lead North Shore’s eight-hit attack. Shortstop Logan Bravo (Harvard) also finished the night with two hits.
Pittsfield starter John Clayton (UAlbany) set the tone for the evening with three straight strikeouts in the first inning before his offense jumped on the scoreboard with a run on three hits, including right fielder Mark Coley’s (Rhode Island) two-out triple to center. The Navs had scored first in their previous eight games.
The hosts tagged North Shore starter Trystan Sarcone (Dartmouth) for at least a run in all five of his innings. Third baseman Taylor Beckett (Princeton) doubled the home team’s lead in the following frame, singling first baseman Dan Baruch (Boston College) home as the third straight Sun to reach base at the start of the frame.
Coley and Beckett homered in back-to-back innings to extend Pittsfield’s lead to 5-0 through four. Coley’s blast to center brought in a pair of runs in the third, highlighting his 2-for-3 night with two runs scored and three RBI.
Second baseman Keagan Calero’s (UMass Lowell) one-out single got the Navs on the board in the fifth, but Pittsfield answered with Baruch’s double during its next at-bats. Before Calero’s knock, Clayton had thrown 24.1 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to his June 7 start against the Navs.
North Shore made things a bit more interesting with a two-run, two-hit sixth inning. Designated hitter Sean Lawlor (Flagler) led off with a double into the left-center gap and scored on right fielder Kade Kretzschmar’s (Dartmouth) triple to right. Freeberger then added an RBI grounder to second, making the score 6-3.
Hunter Wilichoski (Northern Essex CC) pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts in relief of Sarcone. Thanks to the Hamilton native’s strong relief, the Navs had chances to make the game even closer but left five runners on base over the final three innings. Pittsfield reliever Shaun Gamelin (Fitchburg State) hit center fielder Ben Malgeri (Holy Cross) with a pitch and walked Kretzschmar in the eighth, but Freeberger and Bravo struck out to end the visitors’ threat.
The Suns added insurance to their lead on catcher Andrew Fernandez’s (Broward) one-out homer to left in the eighth. Henry Leake (Babson) struck out two Navs in the ninth, securing Clayton’s second straight win. The Pittsfield starter fanned nine over six innings of seven-hit, three-run ball.
The Navs will spend three of the next four nights at Fraser Field before the FCBL breaks for its All-Star Game. That stretch begins Thursday at 7 p.m. when the Suns visit Lynn for a rematch.