08/13/2021 7:56 AM
LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators saw their 2021 season and a magical postseason run come to an end with an 8-4 loss to the Danbury Westerners in Game 2 of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Championship Series on Thursday night at Fraser Field.
Following a .500 regular season, North Shore played its best baseball at the right time. The Navs earned four of their five postseason wins in succession to knock off Vermont in the Wild Card Round, top-seeded Keene in the Northern Division Semifinals and second-seeded Upper Valley to win the divisional crown before falling to Danbury, which became a first-time NECBL champion in its 26-year history with a 2-0 win in the best-of-three series.
Third baseman Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) led the North Shore offense with three RBI, while catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) had the remaining one as part of 2-for-3 night. Second baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) went 2-for-5 and finished the postseason with a team-leading .310 average.
North Shore got the scoring going in the first inning for the second consecutive night, but the three-run lead that it created against Danbury starter Sean Hogan (Williams) was short-lived following the visiting team’s five-run spot in the top half of the third.
During the Navs’ first at-bats, left fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position when the Lynnfield native Luders (Seton Hall) sent a bunt single to the left side. Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) was hit by a one-out pitch to load the bases before the Navs marked the scoreboard with a pair of two-out base hits by Haas and Christofori.
After Christofori caught a runner stealing for a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the first and Swampscott native Luke Marshall (Stonehill) stranded the bases loaded an inning, the Westerners sent 10 batters to the plate in their five-run second.
First baseman Andrew Jenkins (Georgia Tech) and third baseman Nick Lorusso (Maryland) strung together back-to-back hits to cut Danbury’s deficit to one before second baseman Matt Zaffino (Fairfield) delivered the biggest of the frame’s four hits, clearing the fences for a two-out, three-run home run.
North Shore got a run back in the third inning as Haas brought home first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) on an infield grounder. Bravo started the inning with an infield single before designated hitter Ryan Marra’s (Brown) double to right-center put runners on the corners.
In the fourth, Jenkins delivered another RBI single and Lorusso hit a sacrifice fly to right after catcher Jack Payton (Louisville) hit a leadoff ground-rule double and left fielder Cameron Masterman (Louisville) walked. Lorusso’s two-out infield single scored Masterman from second base two innings later to equal the final score.
Danbury was held to three hits over the final five innings as the duo of James Sashin (San Diego) and Justin Butera (Merrimack) teamed up to shut down an opponent one final time. Sashin struck out five over five innings of three-hit, one-run ball before Butera punched out two during a 1-2-3 ninth.
Four relief pitchers kept the Navs off the scoreboard after the third inning, with Jacob Marshall (Le Moyne) following Hogan for two hitless innings. Coleman Picard (Bryant) struck out two batters in the ninth inning to record his third postseason save.
After playing for the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup in their first NECBL season since 2011, the Navs will return to Fraser Field in June 2022. Stay up to date on the latest Navs news throughout the offseason by visiting nsnavs.com and following the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.