Navs Dealt Ninth Inning Loss at Winnipesaukee, 8-7

06/10/2021 7:52 PM

By Joshua Kummins

LACONIA, N.H. -- The Winnipesaukee Muskrats scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and earned an 8-7, walk-off win over the North Shore Navigators in Thursday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League action at Robbie Mills Field.

North Shore slipped to 2-2-1 following its first road loss of the summer, while Winnipesaukee snapped a three-game losing streak to move to an even 3-3.

Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) and second baseman Jake Gustin (Bryant) both homered and crossed the plate twice to help North Shore’s 10-hit offense. First baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) finished with two RBI, while third baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) and designated hitter Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) both went 2-for-3.

The Muskrats plated five runs on four hits and an error to win the game in the final frame. Third baseman Will Vergantino (Elon) dropped the deciding two-out single into right field after shortstop Benjamin Kaliher (Penn State) reached on a fielding error that brought in the tying run.

Winnipesaukee drew first blood as first baseman Ramon Jimenez (Boston College) hit a one-out single to drive home right fielder Jake LaPrairie (Tulane) in the first inning. LaPrairie and center fielder Joshua Rodriguez (Rutgers) recorded back-to-back hits to set up Jimenez for the Muskrats’ run-scoring knock in the opening frame, but the Navs immediately responded with a run of their own in the top of the second.

Christofori started the North Shore offense with a leadoff single into right and took second on a fielding error before catcher Tristan Latham (Pomona-Pitzer) continued the line with a one-out walk. Left fielder David Kale’s (Fordham) fielder’s choice moved Christofori to third, and Luders’ double off the “Muskrat Monster” in left field got North Shore on the board.

While starter Jackson Emus (Princeton) settled in the mound and finished three innings of three-hit, one-run ball, the Navs put up consecutive two-run spots in the third and fourth. Lomuscio provided the third-inning offense on one swing of the bat as he ripped a two-run homer out to left-center field, scoring Gustin following a leadoff infield single.

In the fourth, Luders began the proceedings with a single but was erased on shortstop Alex Lemery’s (Marymount) fielder’s choice grounder back to the mound. After Lomuscio was hit by a pitch and right fielder Ryan Marra (Brown) reached on an error, Christofori and Bravo drew bases-loaded walks that scored runs and ended Muskrat starter Josh Lajoie’s (St. John’s) second outing of the summer.

Emus struck out three Muskrats over the first three innings before James Sashin (San Diego) relieved him for his second appearance in as many nights, fanning three while allowing just one hit in two frames.

The Navs extended their lead with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Bravo delivered the first of those markers on a sacrifice fly that Rodriguez caught just in front of the fence. Marra opened the inning with a single to right and moved across the diamond as Christofori ripped a double off the wall in center.

Winnipesaukee reliever Kevin McNiff (New Haven) retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before Gustin drove a two-out solo homer out to right. The Muskrats started on the comeback trail thanks to back-to-back singles by LaPrairie and Rodriguez, but Myles McDermott (San Jacinto) trotted out of the Navs bullpen and retired all four batters he faced, allowing the team to carry a lead into the ninth.

The first two North Shore runners reached base against Nate Espelin (Dayton) in the ninth, but the Navigator-turned-Muskrat struck out two of the next three batters to eventually earn the win.

Catcher Nick Marrero (Hofstra) started the Muskrats’ ninth with a solo shot to left-center before second baseman Drew Metzdorf (Abilene Christian) dropped a single into right and Navs reliever Jack Wallace (Franklin Pierce) recorded the first out of the inning by way of the strikeout. From there, six consecutive batters reached base -- including two on two-strike walks -- to send the home team to a win.

The Navs return home to Lynn for a Friday night contest against the defending league champion Keene Swamp Bats. First pitch from Fraser Field is set for 6:35 p.m.