Navs, SteepleCats Tie Again in Fraser Rematch

06/13/2021 7:46 PM

By Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators were unable to plate the game-winning run in the 11th inning and settled for a 5-5 tie with the North Adams SteepleCats in Sunday’s New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Fraser Field.

The game marked the second stalemate in as many meetings between the teams after a 4-4 score in North Shore’s first road game of the season at Joe Wolfe Field back on June 5. The Navs moved to 3-3-2 on the season, while North Adams is now 1-3-2.

Catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) and left fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) paced the Navs’ seven-hit attack with two apiece. McElroy laid down a bunt back to the mound that led to a base hit, subsequent error and first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) scoring the tying run. However, two fly balls and a grounder against SteepleCat reliever Landon Willeman (Bowling Green) kept the game knotted for good.

North Shore manufactured a run with to take a first-inning lead as third baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) was hit by a pitch to start the game, advanced to second on second baseman Jake Gustin’s (Bryant) walk and right fielder Ryan Marra’s (Brown) grounder to second, and scored on a wild pitch.

The visitors responded and flipped the score in their favor in the top of the second. Navs right-handed starter Jay Driver (Harvard) got the first two outs of the inning before two walks and right fielder Justin Grech’s (Lafayette) infield single loaded the bases. Second baseman Lucas Donlon (Virginia Tech) was hit by a pitch to force in a run, and left fielder Matt Shilling’s (Liberty) walk did the same to put North Adams in front.

A two-out single and two free passes loaded the bases with SteepleCats in the third. Southpaw Aaron Groller (Seton Hall) relieved Driver, inducing a ground ball to end the threat and then faced the minimum during the following frame. 

North Shore was able to build upon the momentum and score three runs on two hits in its half of the fourth. Designated hitter Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) started the frame with a double just out of Grech’s reach on the warning track. After Bravo walked, McElroy loaded the bases with a bunt single. 

The Navs’ first two runs of the fourth came across on free passes as shortstop Alex Lemery (Marymount) walked and Luders was hit for the second time before an out was recorded. Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) extended the lead with a sacrifice fly to his North Adams counterpart two batters later.

Groller struck out four over his 3.1 scoreless innings, facing the minimum after Donlon was caught stealing in the fourth. Catcher Jeremy Lea’s (Pacific) solo home run to left field trimmed the North Adams deficit to one, but Navs reliever James Sashin (San Diego) held the score there with an inning-ending grounder.

Three straight hits against Chris Shine (Seton Hall) led to center fielder Braden Barry (West Virginia) doubling home the tying run for the SteepleCats in the following frame. First baseman John Marti (UAlbany) started the frame with a hit and crossed the plate.

The final North Shore relief duo of Justin Butera (Merrimack) and Zach Chappell (North Florida) combined for three innings of one-hit ball to close the game with the NECBL’s International Tie Breaker rule in effect for the extra frames. In the 10th, Butera stranded two runners before Christofori’s one-out knock to center went by the boards for the Navs after a strikeout and fly out.

Shilling put the ‘Cats ahead with a one-out single through the right side of the infield in the 11th before Chappell struck out two to limit the damage and allow the home team to plate the tying run on McElroy’s second bunt single.

The Navs return to action at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday when they host the longtime rival Sanford Mainers at Fraser Field in the first game of a home-and-home series.