06/22/2021 8:17 PM
By Joshua Kummins
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The North Shore Navigators came out on the wrong end of a Tuesday night pitcher’s duel, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Vermont Mountaineers in a New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Montpelier Recreation Field that featured just four hits by each team.
The Navs fell to 6-6-2 on the season following their third consecutive loss, while Vermont moved to 8-5 with its sixth win in the last seven games.
Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) drove home pinch-hitting outfielder Dylan Brazil (Stetson) with North Shore’s lone run on an eighth-inning single, but Vermont scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings against three pitchers who had yet to allow an earned run on their respective summer-long lines entering the night.
North Shore’s early opportunity to get on the scoreboard came in the second inning as right fielder Jose Aquino (Cisco) sent a leadoff single into center field and stole second. Vermont starter Luke Rettig (Lehigh) allowed a two-out walk to third baseman Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) before a liner allowed him to escape the jam unscathed and finish his three-inning outing with just one hit allowed.
The Mountaineers had a golden chance of their own in the third, drawing three consecutive walks against Navs starter Austin Amaral (Stetson). The righty, however, was able to work out of the bases-loaded jam by striking out center fielder Curtis Robison (Penn State) and inducing a fly ball to center off the bat of third baseman Evan Giordano (Stony Brook).
After Lynnfield native Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) helped Amaral through the fourth with a leaping catch at shortstop, the home team finally broke the scoreless drought by manufacturing a run to start the bottom of the fifth. First baseman Zachary Stevens (Navy) drew a leadoff walk and moved across the diamond on a wild pitch and a balk. Left fielder Anthony D’Onofrio (Hofstra) drove home the first run on a sacrifice fly to right.
Amaral allowed a single to shortstop Matt McDermott (Coastal Carolina) after the Mountaineers drew first blood, but he induced a 6-4-3 double play ball to end the inning. D’Onofrio’s sac fly brought home the first earned run charged to the North Shore righty, who allowed just a pair of hits across five innings before earning a tough-luck loss in his third start of the summer.
Vermont doubled its lead in the sixth as Robison greeted Navs reliever Ryan Steinhauer (Dayton) by hitting a solo homer out to right. Luders started a 6-4-3 double play ball for the second time in as many innings to get his southpaw out of the inning without any further damage.
The relief duo of Rojo Prarie (William & Mary) and Tucker Wittman (UMass) followed Rettig on the mound for the home team and held the Navs scoreless until the eighth when they cut their deficit in half. Left fielder David Kale (Fordham) broke a four-inning hitless streak for the Navs with a one-out single in the seventh, but he was quickly erased on a double play ball.
Brazil started North Shore’s run-scoring frame with a single through the left side and took second as Luders grounded back to the mound. After Jared Gadd (Xavier) retired the next two batters, Lomuscio dropped a base hit into shallow right to score Brazil and make the score 2-1.
Navs designated hitter Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) reached on a throwing error and Aquino walked against Cole Roland (Dartmouth) to load the bases again. The home team’s final arm of the night recovered from the free pass, striking out catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) swinging.
Vermont scratched across a run against Navs closer Justin Butera (Merrimack) in the eighth. Robison scored for the second time as right fielder Vincenzo Castronovo (Bryant) worked a nine-pitch at-bat and drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk.
From there, the Navs were unable to come any closer than the 3-1 final score as Roland struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 frame to post his second save of the summer and deliver Wittman his second win.
The Navs return to action at 6 p.m. tomorrow when they return to the Green Mountain State to take on the Northern Division-leading Upper Valley Nighthawks in White River Junction.