Navigators Best Vermont, Take Fourth in NECBL North

07/31/2021 9:36 PM

By Joshua Kummins

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The North Shore Navigators moved into a virtual tie for fourth place in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division after scoring five runs in the fifth inning on the way to a 7-6 win over the Vermont Mountaineers on Saturday night at Montpelier Recreation Field.

The Navs jumped back above the .500 mark at 19-18-2 following their sixth win in the seven-game season series with Vermont, which moved to 21-20.

Five North Shore players were repeat hitters contributing to the team’s total of 11. Left fielder David Kale (Fordham) and catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) both had two hits and two RBI, while center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) scored two runs himself. Kale reached base four times in total as he walked twice in addition to recording a pair of hits.

North Shore starter Chris Shine (Seton Hall) stranded two runners on base in the first inning, but the hosts bounced back to score three runs over the first five batters of the following frame. The right-hander held Vermont scoreless outside of the three-run, four-hit second inning and completed five strong, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out seven in his second win of the summer.

In the second, Vermont designated hitter Casey Mayes (Michigan State) hit a leadoff single and stole second before back-to-back doubles by third baseman Evan Giordano (Stony Brook) and right fielder Curtis Robison (Gardner-Webb) plated the game’s first runs.

The Navs got their comeback started with a third-inning run before Vermont starter Parker Scott (Rutgers) exited the game. After right fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) ripped a leadoff single through the left side, Luders moved him across the diamond on a bunt single and subsequent throwing error. Second baseman Jake Gustin’s (Bryant) fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop scored McElroy.

Lomuscio started the fourth with a base hit up the middle and took second as Mountaineer reliever Brendan O’Donnell (UConn) tossed a wild first pitch. Christofori made it a 3-2 game with a line single over second base a few batters later, but consecutive outs after McElroy’s second straight hit ended the inning with the bases loaded.

North Shore knotted the score and then some to take command of the game for good in the fifth, sending all nine batters to the plate to score five runs on four hits.

All of the offense came after the first out was recorded, with first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) drawing a walk and Lomuscio singling into right to provide the jump start. Pinch hitter Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) earned a pinch-hit free pass to load the bases and set up Kale for a go-ahead, two-run double deep into the right-center gap. Christofori then dropped his second RBI single in as many innings to extend the lead.

After McElroy walked, Luders continued North Shore’s run of eight straight batters reaching base with a line single to center and Lemery drew a bases-loaded free pass to force home another run that made the score 7-3.

Left-hander Zach Chappell (North Florida) provided an outstanding start to the night for the North Shore bullpen as he struck out the side on 10 pitches -- one away from a rare immaculate inning -- in the sixth and worked around two baserunners an inning later. 

The Mountaineers finally returned to the scoreboard on first baseman Adam Retzbach’s (Lehigh) two-run homer to left in the eighth. Chappell worked around a Giordano single following the long ball and struck out the side, finishing his three-inning outing with eight strikeouts.

James Sashin (San Diego) earned his second save of the summer, but not before Vermont made things interesting by getting the tying run to third base with two outs. Center fielder Griffin Arnone (Elon) hit a leadoff single and scored on left fielder Kade Kretzschmar’s (Dartmouth) RBI grounder to second.

The Navs now return home and welcome the Sanford Mainers to Fraser Field on Sunday afternoon, completing Tuesday's suspended game (halted in the top of the third inning due to rain) at 1:20 p.m. before the 4:05 p.m. scheduled regular-season finale.