Navs Edge Past Vermont in Wild Card Round, 3-2

08/03/2021 8:56 PM

By Joshua Kummins

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The North Shore Navigators have survived and advanced in the 2021 New England Collegiate Baseball League Playoffs.

Center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning and the deciding single through the left side in the ninth, lifting the fifth-seeded Navs to a 3-2 win over the fourth-seeded Vermont Mountaineers in Tuesday night’s Northern Division Wild Card Round game at Montpelier Recreation Field.

North Shore recorded seven hits including two by both Lomuscio and first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard), the latter who also contributed to a three-hit rally in the game-winning frame. James Sashin (San Diego) earned the win out of the bullpen as he relieved Austin Amaral (Stetson) after six innings of one-run ball.

The Navs loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit in the first inning and stranded six total runners over the first four against Vermont starter Alex Bryant (Holy Cross), but they finally broke the ice with the game’s first run in atypical fashion in the top of the fifth.

Shortstop Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) lined a one-out single off the glove of the leaping Craig Larsen (Penn) deep in the 5-6 hole to get the North Shore offense started before advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch. After Bravo's fly ball to right moved Luders to third, the Lynnfield native touched home with the opening run as Lomuscio reached first on a dropped third strike.

Amaral kept his team in the game for the majority, scattering six hits and striking out three over six innings of one-run ball. He escaped a two-on jam in the opening frame and allowed just two base hits over the next four frames, stranding right fielder Curtis Robison (Gardner-Webb) after a two-out triple in the fourth.

Amaral left the mound in a tie game, however, as Vermont designated hitter Matt Oldham (NC State) hit a leadoff homer to right in the sixth. Robison recorded a two-out single, but Amaral escaped from the inning without any further damage.

Left-hander Zach Chappell (North Florida) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning before his team was able to take the lead in the eighth. After Mountaineer reliever Cole Roland (Dartmouth) struck out Bravo to begin his outing, Lomuscio hit a two-strike shot over the left-field wall to flip the score back in favor of the visitors.

Vermont strung three consecutive two-out hits together against Sashin in the eighth, tying the score again when Robison dropped a bloop double into shallow left.

Catcher Adam Retzbach (Lehigh) attempted to give the home team the lead on a wild pitch, but his North Shore counterpart Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) pounced on the loose ball to his right and flipped to Sashin who placed the tag down to catch the runner sliding into the plate.

Christofori started the following inning with an infield single and moved along on right fielder Hunter Baldwin’s (Harvard) sacrifice bunt. Luders was hit by a two-out pitch two batters later before Bravo beat a check-swing single to third base to load the bases. Lomuscio brought home the final run on a single through the shortstop hole.

Third baseman Evan Giordano (Stony Brook) hit a leadoff triple for the hosts in the ninth, but Navs closer Justin Butera (Merrimack) struck out the final two batters he faced to preserve the victory in their first-ever postseason game against Vermont.

Continuing the Chase for the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup, the Navs will face the top-seeded and defending NECBL champion Keene Swamp Bats in the best-of-three Divisional Semifinals beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday from Alumni Field. The series will shift to Fraser Field at 6:35 p.m. Thursday, with all fans receiving free admission.