07/16/2021 7:39 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LACONIA, N.H. -- The North Shore Navigators mounted another furious rally by scoring three unanswered runs and loading the bases in the ninth inning, but the host Winnipesaukee Muskrats held on for a 6-5 win in Friday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League action at Robbie Mills Field.
The Navs slipped to 13-12-2 on the season with their third straight loss, while the Muskrats earned their second win in the head-to-head series to improve to 11-17.
First baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard), second baseman Jake Gustin (Bryant) and center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) all hit home runs for the Navs, who held a 9-8 advantage in the hit column. Bravo and Lomuscio both went 2-for-4 as they combined for three RBI and three runs scored, while shortstop Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) also had a pair of hits including one during the team’s attempted ninth-inning comeback.
The visitors jumped on the scoreboard first as Bravo hit a two-out homer to left field in the opening inning. Winnipesaukee starter Justin Murray (Dartmouth) settled into the game after the early blemish, holding the Navs scoreless and hitless over the next four frames.
North Shore southpaw Zach Chappell (North Florida) set down the first five batters he faced, but the hosts flipped the score in their favor with a four-run second inning. Back-to-back singles set up first baseman Josh Petrucci (UMass) for the game-tying RBI before left fielder Kevin Catrine (UNC Asheville) sent a three-run homer over the left-field fence to make the score 4-1.
Chappell retired six straight batters after two straight singles began the third. He struck out the side to end that frame before fanning the last two batters of the fourth, finishing a 4.1-inning outing -- his first start as a Navigator -- with a season-high eight strikeouts.
Before Chappell exited the game, the Muskrats added an insurance run an inning later as designated hitter Jake LaPrairie (Tulane) drew a leadoff walk and scored on a wild pitch. Jay Driver (Harvard) limited the damage to one run as he got two outs to strand a runner on base.
The Navs got back on the scoreboard thanks to Gustin’s leadoff homer to left in the sixth, but another wild pitch allowed a run to cross the plate for the home team in its half of the inning. Both of the Peabody native Gustin’s long balls have come against the Muskrats in Laconia.
Third baseman Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) and Lomuscio both logged infield singles before the inning was over, but Murray was able to induce a double play ball to end the threat. Catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) began the seventh with a single and crossed the plate on a Luders knock over first base, trimming North Shore’s deficit to 6-3.
Michael Willis (Georgetown) worked around a two-out walk to put up a zero out of the bullpen before the Navs made it a one-run game in the eighth. Lomuscuo’s two-run homer to left scored Bravo following a double to the base of the left-field “Muskrat Monster.”
The score remained 6-5 after James Sashin (San Diego) pitched a scoreless inning of his own. North Shore put up a valiant effort in its last at-bats as right fielder Dylan Brazil (Stetson) reached on a throwing error, Luders singled over the mound and Gustin walked, but Haas grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
For Winnipesaukee, Anthony Hattrup (Dayton) pitched the final frame to save Murray’s fourth win of the year. Murray allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits across 6.2 innings. Second baseman Drew Metzdorf (Plymouth State) and shortstop Will Vergantino (Elon) both went 2-for-4.
The Navs return to action on Monday night when they return to the Granite State to face the Keene Swamp Bats at 6:30 p.m. During the two-day break, Bravo, Lomuscio and pitcher Jackson Emus (Princeton) will be in action representing North Shore on the Northern Division team in Sunday’s NECBL All-Star Game at Cardines Field in Newport, R.I.