06/09/2021 7:55 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators suffered their first defeat of the young New England Collegiate Baseball League season as the Upper Valley Nighthawks scored a pair of two-run spots early in the game and never looked back on the way to a 5-3 decision on Wednesday night at Fraser Field.
North Shore slipped to 2-1-1 on the season, while Upper Valley remained undefeated and atop the Northern Division standings with a 4-0 record.
Catcher Cal Christofori (Yale) recorded two of North Shore’s four total hits on back-to-back singles in the sixth and seventh innings, while the relief trio of Caleb Hollis (Crowder), James Sashin (San Diego) and Jay Driver (Harvard) held the visitors scoreless over the final five innings.
Upper Valley broke the Navs’ season-long trend of scoring first as it marked the scoreboard in the second through fourth innings to build a commanding lead. Catcher Parker Haskin’s (Elon) one-out double in the second brought home the first run before designated hitter Raphael Pelletier (Kansas State) doubled the visitors’ lead on a single to left in the next at-bat.
Against Navs righty Michael Willis (Georgetown), the Nighthawks doubled their lead to 4-0 in the third. Center fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) came across on the back end of a double steal and right fielder William Sullivan (Troy) added a run-scoring single to right.
Two consecutive two-run spots proved to be enough support for Upper Valley starter Jace Kaminska (Wichita State), who was named a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American earlier in the day. The righty faced 15 batters and fanned six across five perfect innings, but North Shore finally broke out the offense when the bullpen was called to begin the sixth.
The Navs rudely greeted Upper Valley reliever Randall Alejo (Saint Rose) as the first three batters of the sixth inning all reached. First baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) reached on a ground ball fielding error before Christofori and second baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) singled to load the bases with nobody out.
Designated hitter Jake Gustin (Bryant) drove home North Shore’s first run on a grounder to second. Christofori then scored on a wild pitch and right fielder Ryan Marra (Brown) drew a bases-loaded walk that ended Alejo’s day and trimmed the deficit to two runs.
Upper Valley’s Nick Cantone (Marist) induced a pop to second and a fielder’s choice to end the inning, starting a scoreless outing for 3.2 frames with five strikeouts. Marra sent a two-out single through the middle in the eighth, but Cantone retired the last four batters he faced and struck out Bravo and Christofori to end the night and record his first save of the summer.
North Shore remained in the game as it allowed just four hits over the final five innings. Hollis struck out three over two frames of one-hit ball in his Navs debut before Sashin posted a hitless inning and Driver fanned two over the last two frames.
Four different Nighthawks recorded multiple hits as the team totaled 12 against North Shore’s handful of arms. Shortstop Luca Trigiani (Saint Joseph’s) went 3-for-4 and scored a run out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
The Navs return to the road for a Thursday contest against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. at Robbie Mills Field in Laconia, N.H.