Navigators Shut Down First Place Keene, 2-0

07/12/2021 11:02 PM

By Patrick Donnelly

LYNN, Mass. – The North Shore Navigators made up some ground on the North Division-leading Keene SwampBats, winning a 2-0 pitchers’ duel at Fraser Field in Monday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League action.

With the win, North Shore improved to 13-9-2 on the year with their fourth win in their last five games, claiming sole possession of second place in the North. Meanwhile, Keene dropped to 16-8 this season, hanging on to a two-game division lead. 

The game remained scoreless for more than half the contest before the hosts capitalized in the bottom of the sixth inning. With runners on first and second base, designated-hitter Ryan Marra (Brown) grounded up the middle before an errant throw from second baseman Zach Bushling (Connecticut) allowed Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) to advance home for the first score of the game. 

North Shore added insurance in the bottom of the eighth as first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) hit a bloop single to shallow right field with shortstop Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) scoring from second. 

Navs starter Jackson Emus (Princeton), who was just named an NECBL All-Star, provided another quality start, going 5.1 innings, surrendering four hits and one walk, and notching seven strikeouts.

SwampBats right-hander Jake Berry (Virginia) also came out strong, throwing 4.1 innings and allowing just three hits and two walks, while striking out six batters.

Keene made a defensive stand in the bottom of the fifth as the Navigators looked primed to break through first. After Marra advanced to first on a walk, left fielder David Kale (Fordham) and second baseman Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) laid down successful bunts to load the bases. However, North Shore could not capitalize on a squeeze at the plate before Marra failed to steal second and Luders struck out swinging.

The Navs escaped a jam of their own in the top of the sixth. In relief of Emus with runners on first and second, Aaron Groller (Seton Hall) got some help from McElroy, who made a leaping grab before catching the runner at first flat-footed, making the putout for the double play and ending the inning.

Groller and fellow reliever James Sashin (San Diego) combined for four strikeouts to help the Navs cling to their lead. In the top of the ninth, closer Justin Butera (Merrimack) shut the door on Keene to earn his second save of the season, improving to a 0.68 earned-run average on the year.

Dylan Sabia (Central Connecticut State) took the loss for the SwampBats, giving up three hits and two runs – one earned – in three innings of work.

North Shore will be back in action Tuesday night on the road in North Adams for another contest with the SteepleCats before returning home for a double-header with the Vermont Mountaineers on Thursday.