07/20/2021 9:49 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators started Tuesday by breaking a season-long losing streak before the North Adams SteepleCats earned the split of a New England Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader at Fraser Field.
North Shore earned a 6-1 win to begin the day and had the result reversed in a 10-3 loss in the nightcap, giving the visitors a final 3-2-2 edge in the seven-game season series.
The Navs moved to 14-14-2 on the season following their fifth loss in six games, while North Adams maintained its 1.5-game edge on third place in the Northern Division standings while advancing its record to 15-12-2.
North Shore finishes the regular season with 12 games in 11 days after its final scheduled off day on Wednesday. The Navs return home to begin that stretch at 6:35 p.m. Thursday against the Vermont Mountaineers, who sit a half-game behind in fifth place, while a Friday date with the Winnipesaukee Muskrats follows.
Game 1: North Shore 6, North Adams 1
The Navs snapped their four-game skid on the strength of two-RBI performances from both shortstop Alex Lemery (Marymount) and designated hitter Ryan Marra (Brown), as well as starter Austin Amaral’s (Stetson) six innings of two-hit ball. Lemery paced the offense with a 3-for-4 showing from the top of the batting order.
Acting as the visiting team in a make-up game from a week ago, North Shore started the scoring in the first inning. First baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) started the line by dropping a two-out single into shallow center before crossing the plate on center fielder Joe Lomuscio’s (Stanford) triple into the right-center gap in the next at-bat.
Left fielder and Northern Division All-Star Jeremy Lea (Pacific) knotted the score with a one-out single in the latter half of the opening frame, but Lemery flipped the score back in North Shore’s favor during the second as a double into center marked his second hit in as many innings.
The Navs did their biggest damage while sending all nine men to bat in the fifth, recording four runs on as many hits. Bravo drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on catcher Cal Christofori’s (Santa Clara) single into left. Marra extended the lead to 4-1 as he ripped a two-run double just inside the right field line.
After the SteepleCats brought Jake Cubbler (USC Upstate) in from the bullpen to relieve left-handed starter Kaleb Sophy (Shippensburg), right fielder Dylan Brazil (Stetson) and Lemery recorded two run-scoring singles within a three-batter span to bring the North Shore lead to 6-1.
North Shore was held scoreless for the final two innings, but James Sashin (San Diego) closed out Amaral’s second win of the summer by striking out two of the three batters he faced in the seventh.
Game 2: North Adams 10, North Shore 3
The Navs were unable to build upon the momentum taken earlier in the day as three walks and a hit batter allowed North Adams to take a 1-0 lead against Jackson Emus (Princeton) in the first inning. First baseman Brandon Hylton’s (Stetson) bases-loaded walk forced home the run.
Emus worked around a pair of free passes in a second inning that ended his eventual first loss in four decisions this summer. Three singles against Navs reliever Jay Driver (Harvard) to start the third led to a run-scoring knock by Hylton, who was later erased on a 1-4-3 double play. Another walk extended the frame and allowed third baseman Lucas Donlon (Virginia Tech) and left fielder John Marti (UAlbany) to post RBI of their own on a two-out single and double, respectively.
North Shore finally made its mark on the scoreboard thanks to Bravo’s sacrifice fly to center in the last of the third. Third baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) was hit by a leadoff pitch and traded places following Lemery’s fielder’s choice. Second baseman Jake Gustin (Bryant) followed with a single into right before a wild pitch and Bravo’s fly ball scored Lemery.
Gustin led the North Shore offense with two of its seven hits, both in his first two at-bats. Bravo followed with a two-out single in the sixth to extend his hit streak to 13 games, which is the longest currently active in the league. In a note of history, the aforementioned Luders “HBP” was his franchise record-setting 13th of the summer.
Right fielder Charles Middleton (Pacific) laced a two-run double into the right-center gap in the fifth, but the Navs cut into their deficit an inning later as Brazil reached on a fielder’s choice and Marra -- who hit a leadoff single -- crossed the plate with the first of two sixth-inning runs on a subsequent error. After Luders walked to load the bases, Lemery drove a sac fly to right.
North Shore was unable to come any closer as Peyton Wilson (Bowling Green) pitched six of the seven innings and struck out four on the way to his first win as a SteepleCat. Justin Butera (Merrimack) pitched a scoreless sixth in relief of Sashin, but center fielder Justin Grech’s (Lafayette) two-run single and center fielder Jon Kozarian’s (Slippery Rock) sac fly put the final three North Adams runs on the board with the help of just one hit in the seventh.