07/06/2021 7:57 PM
By Joshua Kummins
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- A first-inning home run and a combined two-hit shutout by four different pitchers powered the North Shore Navigators to a 5-0 win over the host Vermont Mountaineers in Tuesday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League action at Montpelier Recreation Field.
North Shore improved to 11-8-2 -- a season-high three games above the .500 mark -- following its fifth win in seven games. Vermont was shut out for the second consecutive game and lost for the sixth time in the last seven, falling to 11-12.
First baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) started the North Shore offense with his team-leading fourth home run of the summer in the first inning and finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two more driven in on the night. Catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) led the 10-hit attack by going 3-for-5 with an RBI, while designated hitter Ryan Marra (Brown) also went 2-for-3 and drove in a run himself.
Swampscott native Luke Marshall (Stonehill) made the early offense stand up in emphatic fashion as he pitched six innings of one-hit, shutout ball with nine strikeouts, facing just one batter over the minimum on the way to his second win in five starts. A trio of North Shore relievers preserved the team’s third shutout while allowing just one hit over the last three innings.
The Navs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the first as third baseman Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) drew a one-out walk and scored quickly on Bravo’s towering two-run homer to right. Christofori and Marra added two-out singles, but Vermont starter Luke Rettig (Lehigh) induced a line drive to end the inning and limit the damage.
Bravo’s bomb carried the visitors into the middle frames as Marshall spun a gem, retiring the first eight batters of the game. Mountaineer designated hitter Casey Mayes (Michigan State) beat out an infield single over the mound in the third, but Marshall picked him off first to end the inning in three batters.
North Shore extended its lead to 3-0 in the fifth, stringing together three straight two-out hits after Rettig benefited from great catches by his corner outfielders to rob Haas and Bravo of extra bases in back-to-back at-bats.
Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) started the string of fifth-inning knocks with a bunt single towards third and made it across the diamond to third on Christofori’s hit-and-run single through the left side. Marra sent the run-scoring hit through the 3-4 hole to bring home his former Brown captain easily.
An inning later, second baseman Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) journeyed around the bases to cushion North Shore’s lead even further. The veteran Navigator started the inning off with a single into left, advanced on an error and a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall), and crossed home on a wild pitch.
Those runs proved to be more than enough for Marshall, whose nine strikeouts were the most by a Navigator arm this summer and the second-year righty’s career high in a North Shore uniform. Marshall punctuated the first and second innings with back-to-back strikeouts and finished four different frames with multiple, including striking out the side in the sixth to cap his outing.
North Shore made the game “grand slam proof” while sending six batters to the plate in the ninth. Christofori hit a two-out single past short that scored Bravo following a one-out infield knock.
Following Marshall, southpaw Aaron Groller (Seton Hall) worked around a leadoff error, inducing three ground balls to end the seventh. James Sashin (San Diego) struck out two around a one-out double in the eighth before a strikeout capped off Justin Butera’s (Merrimack) scoreless final frame.
North Shore returns to Fraser Field for the first of back-to-back home games at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday against the Keene Swamp Bats.