Five-Run Eighth Inning Sends Navs Past Upper Valley, 11-10

06/23/2021 8:14 PM

By Joshua Kummins

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. -- The North Shore Navigators came from behind to win Wednesday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Maxfield Sports Complex, scoring five runs in the eighth inning to edge past the Northern Division-leading Upper Valley Nighthawks for the first time this summer, 11-10.

North Shore snapped a three-game losing streak and jumped back above the .500 mark at 7-6-2 on the season, while Upper Valley fell to 8-5.

Designated hitter Jose Aquino (Cisco) went 2-for-5 with three runs scored and a bases-clearing double as part of North Shore’s five-run, five-hit eighth to win the game. Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) and second baseman Jake Gustin (Bryant) recorded three hits apiece while combining for three hits and three runs scored to help lead the 12-hit attack.

Upper Valley got the scoring going quickly against Navs left-handed starter Aaron Groller (Seton Hall) in the first inning as designated hitter Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) hit a two-run triple to right-center field after left fielder Andrew Walker (Xavier) led off the game with a walk and first baseman Kyle Novak (James Madison) doubled.

The visitors loaded the bases and tied the game in the next at-bats. Aquino and Lomuscio started up the offense with back-to-back singles and Gustin drew a walk to fill up the basepaths before Nighthawk righty Jordy Allard (Richmond) recorded an out.

Catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) drove home North Shore’s first run on a grounder to short and crossed the plate on Lynnfield native shortstop Jonathan Luders’ (Seton Hall) game-tying single to center two batters later.

The Nighthawks jumped ahead with four, two-out runs in their half of the second. Four straight batters hit safely with two down including Walker who singled, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Novak’s knock. Right fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) hit a single that hit off the lip of the infield grass and into right to score a run. Second baseman Max Viera (Northeastern) brought home two more runs on a single through the middle.

Upper Valley produced a two-out run on center fielder Brett Callahan’s (Saint Joseph’s) double an inning later before both pitching staffs settled into the game and dealt two scoreless innings. Michael Willis (Georgetown) and Winthrop’s own Jack Wallace (Franklin Pierce) put up zeroes in relief of Groller, leading into North Shore’s return to the scoreboard in the sixth.

Lomuscio and Gustin combined to provide North Shore’s run scoring during the sixth and seventh frames. The Navs cut their deficit to 8-4 as Lomuscio hit a one-out single and scored all the way from first on the former Peabody star Gustin’s double into left. 

An inning later, Lomuscio was also on the RBI end of a two-out base hit into center. Gustin strung together another second consecutive hit as he sent a hard-hit single past first to make it a two-run game. Third baseman Ronald Evans (UNCW) extended the home team’s lead to 9-6 with a double that scored Roden after a leadoff walk and two stolen bases.

North Shore batted around and scored five runs in an eighth frame that began with first baseman Kyle Maurice (Saint Anselm) reaching on a throwing error and pinch hitter Ryan Marra (Brown) dropping a single into left.

Left fielder David Kale (Fordham) was hit by a pitch to load the bases before right fielder Dylan Brazil (Stetson) sent a run-scoring single into left and Aquino flipped the score in the Navs’ favor on a three-run knock inside the line in left. Gustin ripped another single inside the first base bag to deliver a key insurance run.

Upper Valley had the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the bottom of the ninth after pinch hitter William Sullivan (Troy) hit a two-out RBI single, but James Sashin (San Diego) induced a ground ball to end the game and make fellow reliever Myles McDermott (San Jacinto) a winner for the second time. Between McDermott and Sashin’s outings, southpaw Zach Chappell (North Florida) struck out two and stranded two runners on base in the eighth.

Walker and Novak both went 3-for-4 out of the top two spots in the Upper Valley lineup. Zane Kmietek (Marist) suffered his second loss for the Nighthawks, allowing five hits and six runs (four earned) in just 1.1 innings of relief.

The Navs return home to host the Winnipesaukee Muskrats for the first time this season on Thursday night. First pitch from Fraser Field is set for 6:35 p.m.