Suns Best First-Place Navs, 8-4

07/21/2019 7:16 PM

By Joshua Kummins

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Suns scored in four of their eight innings at the plate and recorded 11 hits as a team en route to an 8-4 win over the first-place North Shore Navigators in Sunday’s Futures Collegiate Baseball League game at Wahconah Park.

North Shore suffered its second straight loss and fell to 25-19 on the season, remaining one game ahead of both the Suns and Brockton atop the FCBL standings. Pittsfield moved to 22-18 following back-to-back wins.

Despite the loss, right fielder Kade Kretzschmar (Dartmouth) became the first Navigator to finish a 4-for-4 game this season and also recorded North Shore’s lone RBI. In addition, center fielder Ben Malgeri (Holy Cross) went 2-for-4 with a double and scored two of the team’s four runs.

Navs first baseman Colin Wetterau (St. John’s) and left fielder Sean Lawlor (Flagler) ripped deep fly balls in the first inning, but Pittsfield’s Jack Cooney (Springfield) caught them both in center field to silence the North Shore offense and help John Clayton (UAlbany) open the game a 1-2-3 frame.

North Shore lefty Jake Zoller (Wofford) retired the first three batters he faced in his fourth start of the summer before the Suns scored first when first baseman Dan Baruch (Boston College) lined a two-out solo homer into the bullpen an inning later.

A third-inning run for the visitors tied the score at 1-1. Catcher Nolan Watson (Dayton) drew a two-out walk and stole second before scoring on Wetterau’s hard hit ball off Pittsfield second baseman Mark Coley’s (Rhode Island) glove in the next at-bat. Wetterau followed with a stolen base of his own, but second baseman Andrew Olszak (Southern Maine) grounded out to finish the side.

Pittsfield took the lead back during its half of the third, scoring twice on three hits. Cooney hit a one-out double inside the first base line and scored on Coley’s knock to left. Coley advanced to second on a fielding error and scored an insurance run on catcher Jackson Petersen’s (Penn) two-out single through the middle.

After the Navs were unable to muster anything more than Kretzschmar’s second single and then Zoller retired the Pittsfield side in three batters in the fourth, the Suns broke the game open with a four-run fifth that ultimately provided all the offense that Clayton and his team would need.

Coley drove in a run on the first of three straight Pittsfield hits to start the frame. Petersen grounded into a double play that allowed a teammate to score through the back door before right fielder Jeff Boggess (Kansas State) ripped a solo shot to right, extending the score to 7-1 before reliever Matt Poff (Saint Joseph’s of Maine) ended the inning with a strikeout.

Kretzschmar was in the middle of North Shore’s second run-scoring frame of the day, but Olszak began the proceedings with a one-out single to center. Malgeri followed with a knock to right before Kretzschmar’s tally included a throwing error on a relay from the outfield that allowed both runners to cross the plate.

Poff allowed just one hit in 1.1 scoreless innings to begin a solid night’s work out of the Navs bullpen. The Suns scored one last run against Matt Bergeron (Saint Joseph’s of Maine) in the seventh as Cooney touched home after Petersen’s grounder to first.

Malgeri and Kretzschmar combined to drive in another run in the eighth, bringing the Navs within a grand slam of tying the game. After Malgeri dropped a double inside the line in right, he scored thanks to an error that followed Kretzschmar’s fourth straight hit.

The Navs retired six straight batters to finish the game. Bergeron set down three in a row after Cooney’s leadoff single and Coley’s walk in the seventh, while Dominic Freeberger (UNC Asheville) struck out the side to post an emphatic zero in just his second pitching appearance of the summer an inning later.

Suns reliever Jared Henry (Southern Connecticut State) got Freeberger ― who started as the Navs’ designated hitter ― to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the eighth before dealing a 1-2-3 ninth that included a strikeout. Henry’s strong finish made a winner out of Clayton, who improved to 3-0 after limiting the Navs to just five hits over the first six frames.

Pittsfield scattered nine hits against Zoller during his 4.2-inning start, dropping him to 2-4 on the season. From there, North Shore’s bullpen trio allowed one run on two hits and struck out five over the final 3.1 frames.

The Navs return home to Fraser Field for five of their next six games, beginning at 7 p.m. Monday against the Brockton Rox.