Late Inning Heroics Lift Navs Past Vermont, 5-4

07/22/2021 8:13 PM

By Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. -- After having a one-run lead flipped against them in the top of the ninth inning, the North Shore Navigators stepped back up to the plate and belted consecutive one-out home runs in the bottom half of the ninth to down the Vermont Mountaineers, 5-4, in Thursday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League action at Fraser Field.

North Shore improved to 15-14-2 on the season and opened a 1.5-game lead on fourth place in the Northern Division following its second win in three games. Vermont slipped to 15-17.

The Navs won the game on back-to-back jacks in the last frame of regulation. After right fielder Jake Gustin (Bryant) capped his 4-for-5 night with a game-tying solo shot to right, first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) walked off with his second homer of the night over the left-field fence.

Bravo also opened North Shore’s scoring with a first-inning homer, his franchise record-setting ninth of 10 total this summer. The Andover native’s first of the night also extended his division-leading hit streak to 14 games.

After North Shore entered the ninth with a 3-2 lead, the visitors flipped the score in their favor with a two-out, two-strike triple into the right-center field gap by right fielder Casey Mayes (Michigan State). Despite allowing Vermont to take a lead, Navs reliever James Sashin (San Diego) earned his third win of the season following the walk-off heroics.

The Navs pulled ahead on one swing of the bat as Bravo hit a two-out bomb out to left-center. Vermont starter Josh O’Neill (Stony Brook) retired the first two batters he faced before the veteran first baseman wrote his name in the single-season record books for the second time in his three-year career by belting the solo shot.

After Swampscott native Luke Marshall (Stonehill) began the game with two grounders and a strikeout, the Mountaineers quickly knotted the score in the second. Left fielder Jack Frank (Michigan State) drew a one-out walk, stole second and crossed the plate on a run-scoring single to left by right fielder Casey Mayes (Michigan State).

North Shore followed by putting up a zero and taking the lead back with a run in the third. Third baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) dropped down a leadoff bunt single and traded places on shortstop Alex Lemery’s (Marymount) fielder’s choice grounder and Gustin followed with his first of four straight hits on a well executed hit-and-run. After Bravo walked to load the bases, Lemery scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Marshall put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth innings before Vermont tied the game again on second baseman Craig Larsen’s (Penn) two-out double. Shortstop Keagan Calero (Dayton) was hit by a one-out pitch and crossed the score following an error and hit. The Swampscott native righty recovered by inducing a grounder, finishing six innings of three-hit ball with five strikeouts.

The Navs jumped back ahead on another wild pitch in a seventh inning that began with Lemery and Gustin lacing back-to-back singles. After Cole Roland (Dartmouth) relieved William Paoli (Ramapo) with one out, Lemery swiped second base and crossed the plate on another errant pitch.

Mayes led Vermont with a 2-for-4, three-RBI night that included his go-ahead, two-run knock. After Gustin tied the score in the bottom half of the ninth, Bravo sent his 10th long ball of the year and fifth in six games out of Fraser. The game-winning duo of Gustin and Bravo combined for six of the Navs’ 10 hits, three of their five runs and all three RBI.

Despite striking out four, Roland was charged with the loss after allowing two runs on three hits over the final two innings.

The Navs return home for a Friday night contest against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats. First pitch at Fraser is set for 6:35 p.m.