Navs, Mainers Split Sunday's Regular Season Home Finale at Fraser

08/01/2021 8:04 PM

By Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators capped their New England Collegiate Baseball League regular-season home slate with a doubleheader split against the longtime rival Sanford Mainers on Sunday afternoon at Fraser Field.

The Navs exploded for eight runs in their final two at-bats to earn a 10-3 win in a game that originally began on Tuesday and was suspended due to rain, but they were unable to complete the sweep in a 5-3 setback in the nightcap.

North Shore moved to 20-19-2 on the season, falling back into a fourth-place tie with the Vermont Mountaineers in the Northern Division standings. Sanford finishes its regular schedule with a 16-25 mark.

The Navs conclude the regular season at 6:30 p.m. Monday when they travel to Alumni Field to face the division’s top-seeded Keene SwampBats in a make-up game that was originally scheduled for Thursday, July 29. The NECBL Playoffs will begin on Tuesday.

North Shore 10, Sanford 3 (Suspended on 7/27)

All-Star first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) continued his second-half power surge by hitting home runs in the seventh and eighth innings, helping the Navs score eight unanswered runs to end the game. Bravo punctuated North Shore’s seven-run seventh with a grand slam before center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) added a three-run shot.

The duo of Bravo and Lomuscio combined for nine of the team’s 10 RBI. Bravo drove home six, marking a new high over his three-year career in a North Shore uniform. His franchise-record 14 homers now lead the entire NECBL. In addition, designated hitter Ryan Marra (Brown) went 3-for-4 and scored a run, and left fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) was 2-for-3 with a run.

Graham Jeffries (Salve Regina) struck out five of the first six batters he faced in his Navs debut last Tuesday before lefty Aaron Groller (Seton Hall) took the mound when the game resumed and tossed the remaining seven innings of four-hit, two-earned run ball with five punchouts to earn his team-leading fourth win of the summer.

North Shore got the scoring started quickly last Tuesday as shortstop Alex Lemery (Marymount) hit a leadoff double to right field and scored on Bravo’s sacrifice fly to deep left. Second baseman Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) first moved Lemery along to third with a sacrifice bunt.

After Bravo’s fly ball, Sanford starter Louis Stallone (Arkansas) loaded the bases on a walk, center fielder David Kale’s (Fordham) single and a hit batter, but a strikeout ended the inning without any further damage. The Navs doubled their lead an inning later as Luders sent a sac fly of his own out to left. The Lynnfield native’s RBI came home in the form of McElroy, who drew a leadoff walk.

When the game resumed Sunday, Sanford designated hitter Derek Smith’s (Bryant) two-run single to center tied the game in the fourth. Catcher Dayne Leonard (West Virginia) put the Moose in front with a two-out, two-strike single three innings later.

The Navs tagged former Navigator closer and Marblehead native Beau Dana (Dickinson) for the tying run a half-inning later as Bravo mashed a one-out solo homer to left.

The home team’s victory was secured in a big way in the eighth as the Navs forced Sanford to call to the bullpen twice while scoring seven runs on five hits. Right fielder Hunter Baldwin (Harvard) got the offense jump started with a one-out single up the middle before pinch-hitting second baseman Jake Gustin (Bryant) knocked another hit and Luders was hit by a pitch.

Bravo’s grand slam off ace reliever Trevor LaBonte (Maryland) flipped the score for good. After Marra hit an infield single and Kale walked, Lomuscio ripped a three-run shot to conclude the scoring. Groller retired the side in order in the ninth to clinch the win as he completed seven innings for the second straight week.

Sanford 5, North Shore 3

Bravo led the North Shore offense with another multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a run-scoring double in the first inning and a triple. The Andover native slugger has now reached base in six consecutive games and hit safely in 21 of the last 24.

North Shore got the scoring going in the bottom of the first inning as McElroy lined a leadoff single through the left side against his former college teammate and Marblehead’s Garret Keough (Georgetown), stole second and scored his second run in as many games on Bravo’s one-out double into the left-center gap.

Navs starter Evan Christopulos (Bentley) faced the minimum over the first two innings, but the visitors broke the game open in a five-run third that began with three coming across the plate on back-to-back singles by center fielder Cal Hewett (Vanderbilt) and third baseman Mitchell Moralez (Utah Valley). First baseman Shane Paradine (Stony Brook) completed the stretch of four consecutive one-out hits with a two-run double.

Christopulos kept the Navs in the game for the first six innings, allowing just two hits outside of Sanford’s big inning and striking out a pair. His offense got a run back in the fourth as catcher Shane Lake (Suffolk) drew a one-out walk -- after knocking his first hit of the summer into center field two innings earlier -- and scored on McElroy’s RBI grounder to short.

North Shore loaded the bases with one out in the sixth as Baldwin walked and pinch hitters Marra and Dylan Brazil (Stetson) were hit by pitches against Sanford reliever Brian Craven (Davidson). McElroy’s double play ball drove in a run, but the hosts were unable to draw any closer after stranding a runner on base and nine total in the seven-inning game.

Bravo capped his monster day with a leadoff triple down the line in right, but three straight strikeouts left him stranded in the seventh and clinched Gavin Hinchliffe’s (Delaware) second save.