Big Fifth Inning Propels Mystic Past Navs

07/05/2024 8:37 PM

LYNN, Mass. — Backed by a big fifth inning, the Mystic Schooners defeated the North Shore Navigators 7-5 in New England Collegiate Baseball League action on Friday night at Fraser Field.

The Navigators fell to 9-13 on the summer as their losing streak extended to four. Mystic continued its climb up the Coastal Division standings into second place, improving to 14-11 with a fourth straight victory.

Catcher Will Burns (Maine) recorded his second straight multi-RBI game, bookending the game with run-scoring base hits as he went 2-for-3 and scored a run himself. Making his North Shore debut, first baseman Isaac Kim (UC Santa Barbara) hit a two-run double in a four-run, first-inning outburst.

After rallying in the late innings against the Danbury Westerners on Thursday, the Navigators wasted no time getting on the scoreboard against the Schooners. A leadoff walk by center fielder Ryan Gerety (Northeastern) allowed designated hitter Jesse Jaconski (Penn State) to score the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly. 

The inning appeared that it would come to a close on a routine ground ball, but first baseman Maddix Dalena (Connecticut) could not squeeze the throw from second baseman Juan De La Cruz (Stetson). The error gave the Navigators the opportunity to expand their early lead, doing just that on a pair of blistering doubles by Burns and Kim.

“We hit the ball hard (in the first inning),” manager Bob Macaluso said. “But I’d like to see more consistent hard contact.”

Burns was a bright spot in the Navigators lineup, using the entire field to do damage. The Reading native reached base safely three times, recording his RBI on hard-hit balls to both the left and right side of the diamond.

After falling behind by two, the Navigators continued to find success in the eighth inning. Nine of the Navigators’ last 27 runs were produced in that frame, and an RBI single into right field by Burns cut the deficit to 6-5. 

On the mound, returner Will Jones (Northeastern) made his fifth appearance of the season. Jones has proven himself to be an ace pitcher of the staff, entering Friday’s contest with an NECBL second-best 0.90 ERA. The Hamilton native has been in complete command on the mound for the Navigators, routinely going five or more innings and issuing just one walk all season.

Despite a season-high five runs, the left-hander produced 4.2 innings, including four consecutive scoreless innings, and six strikeouts. Jones continued to showcase impeccable command, walking just one batter and creating an abundance of swings and misses.

“They have a pretty good lineup, but he had (one) walk and got the ball in play,” Macaluso said on Jones’ performance. “Unfortunately, he had that big inning in the fifth.”

After failing to score in the first four innings, the Schooners got the offense rolling with two outs in the fifth inning and flipped the score with a five-run inning. 

A pair of doubles by Matthew Brinker (Northeastern) and Dalena cut the deficit in half, and a base hit by Tyler Minick (Connecticut) just over the head of a leaping shortstop Reece Moroney (Rhode Island) tied the game at 4-4. The Schooners then took the lead on a wild pitch in the following at-bat, but reliever Griffin Green (Wake Forest) soon produced a groundout that prevented any further damage.

Brinker was the Schooners’ best bat all game long, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. After the fifth inning, it was all Brinker as a sacrifice fly and a towering home run over the left-field fence swelled the Mystic lead to 7-5.

Despite the loss, Gloucester native Zach Morris (Rhode Island) and Ryan Griffin (Northeastern) each pitched scoreless innings out of the bullpen, and Peabody’s Ryan Bradley (Bryant) bounced back from the Brinker homer to strike out the side in the ninth.

The Navigators will look to use their day off on Saturday to rebound before coming back home on Sunday to take on the Vermont Mountaineers at 5:05 p.m. at Fraser Field.

“I told the guys we aren’t playing horrible at all,” Macaluso said. “We struggled a little bit scoring runs, but overall, we've been pretty consistent on how we play, just not good enough to win.”