06/29/2019 10:32 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- After a ninth-inning home run forced extras, the Pittsfield Suns stretched their lead atop the Futures Collegiate Baseball League standings lead to 1.5 games with Saturday night’s 6-5 win over the North Shore Navigators in Home Run Derby fashion at Fraser Field.
North Shore slipped to 13-11 on the season after its first extra-inning contest of the summer, while Pittsfield won a tie-breaking Derby for the second straight night to jump to 14-9. The Navs now sit in sole possession of third place for the first time this year, with idle Brockton moving ahead to take second by a half-game.
A trio of North Shore relievers worked to hold a one-run lead over the sixth through eighth innings, but the visitors sent the game to extras thanks to center fielder Caeden Trenkle’s (Oklahoma State) second-pitch home run in the top of the ninth. Trenkle went 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored, finishing with three of Pittsfield’s six hits.
Marblehead native closer Beau Dana (Dickinson) settled down after the homer ― the first run he surrendered over a league-leading 11 appearances ― and recorded all six of his outs via the strikeout, sending the game to the first Derby “shootout” held at Fraser since 2017. However, third baseman Taylor Beckett (Princeton) hit five of Pittsfield’s six homers during the tiebreaker to propel the visitors to a victory.
First baseman Colin Wetterau (St. John’s) went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to help pace the Navigator offense during regulation. Right fielder Sean Lawlor (Flagler) hit his third home run of the season in the third.
The visitors came out swinging and tagged North Shore lefty Trystan Sarcone (Dartmouth) for three runs in the first. Catcher Matt Malcom (Eastern Connecticut State) and Trenkle led off the game with back-to-back singles to produce a run before designated hitter Jackson Petersen’s (Penn) single doubled the Suns advantage.
Sarcone sandwiched the first out between a pair of walks before first baseman Dan Baruch (Boston College) hit a sacrifice fly to center to lift Pittsfield to a three-run edge. The southpaw did not allow a hit after the first three batters of the game and finished 3.2 innings of three-hit ball with four strikeouts.
The Navs quickly responded with two runs in the second and three in the third before chasing Pittsfield’s Matt Clarkin (Holy Cross) from the mound an inning later. After shortstop Logan Bravo (Harvard) and Wetterau opened the second frame with two straight base hits, center fielder Kade Kretzschmar (Dartmouth) halved the Pittsfield lead with a sac fly. North Shore then squared the score as Wetterau crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
The home team’s third-inning score came fast as left fielder Dominic Freeberger (UNC Asheville) drew a one-out walk, stole both second and third base, and scored on Lawlor’s two-run shot to right. Hunter Wilichoski (Northern Essex CC) stranded an inherited runner with a strikeout in the fourth, but Pittsfield cut into its deficit on Beckett’s fifth-inning fielder’s choice.
Wilichoski fanned three over his two innings before Cam Seguin (UMass Lowell) and Parker Browne (Suffolk) continued a strong night of work from the bullpen, fanning four more Suns over the next 2.1 frames of one-hit work. Browne’s two strikeouts were his first of the season, carrying the Navs through eight complete frames.
After Trenkle tied the score, the Suns got no further before the Derby as Dana stranded the go-ahead run on third in the extra frame. Right fielder Dom Hughes (Kansas State) was hit by a pitch and stole two straight bases, but Dana finished his six-strikeout effort by retiring second baseman Nate Cormier (Nichols) swinging.
Four Pittsfield relievers combined to face the minimum number of Navs over the final seven innings, with Henry Leake (Babson) sending the game to a Derby after a scoreless 10th. Designated hitter Ben Malgeri (Holy Cross), Freeberger, and Kretzschmar were the only three North Shore baserunners over the final 18 batters, but Malcom and Andrew Fernandez (Broward) caught them stealing in the fourth, eighth, and 10th, respectively.
After Petersen left the yard once during his Derby swings, Beckett picked up the pace during the back half of Pittsfield’s round and upped the visitors’ ultimate winning total to six. Lawlor made a valiant effort late for the home team, though, hitting three of his four homers in the final minute.
The Navs are scheduled to return home for a 5 p.m. Sunday first pitch against the Bristol Blues. In addition, Monday’s doubleheader with the Worcester Bravehearts will now begin at 11 a.m.