08/04/2021 8:42 PM
By Joshua Kummins
KEENE, N.H. -- The North Shore Navigators continued their New England Collegiate Baseball League postseason run by doing something they hadn’t done all summer long on Wednesday night.
In the opening game of the best-of-three Northern Division Semifinals, Swampscott native Luke Marshall (Stonehill) pitched a complete game to pace fifth-seeded North Shore’s 2-1 win over the defending NECBL champion and division-leading Keene SwampBats. It was the team’s first triumph in five trips to Alumni Field in 2021.
Marshall twirled in the first nine-inning complete game by a North Shore pitcher since their 2010 Fay Vincent Sr. Cup-winning season when Crayton Bare (Baylor) opened a nine-game playoff run with a five-hit shutout against Sanford on Aug. 2. The righty struck out nine and faced the minimum three batters in six of the nine innings.
On the offensive side, third baseman Matthias Haas (Cal Poly) went 2-for-4 and drove in the game-winning run on a two-out single in the sixth inning. Catcher Cal Christofori (Santa Clara) drove in the first Navs tally an inning earlier.
As was the case in Tuesday’s Wild Card game in Vermont, runs were at a premium in the early innings. Keene left-hander Zachary Davidson (Lincoln Trail) pitched four scoreless innings to start the game and matched the effort over the first three for the Navs.
Marshall retired seven straight batters after center fielder Troy Schreffler’s (Maryland) two-out single put two aboard, three of which came by way of the strikeout. The SwampBats manufactured the opening run in the fourth as third baseman Ronny Medina (Florida Southwestern State) dropped a one-out single into shallow left-center, scoring Schreffler following a fielder’s choice grounder.
Davidson hit shortstop Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) with a one-out pitch in the first inning before beginning a stretch of 12 consecutive batters retired, striking out two batters in both the second and third. Designated hitter Ryan Marra (Brown) broke the streak with North Shore’s first hit of the night in the form of a one-out single to right in the fifth and scored the tying run from first on Christofori’s double into left.
The Navs marked the scoreboard in the sixth and held the lead for good. After Davidson induced two line drive outs, first baseman Logan Bravo (Harvard) and center fielder Joe Lomuscio (Stanford) reached on back-to-back errors to keep the inning alive. In the next at-bat, Haas sent a ground ball single into center to plate the deciding run.
The SwampBats only managed one hit in the first inning and two in the fourth before Marshall shut them down for the remainder of the game, escaping a two-on, no-out jam with three fly ball outs in the sixth. The reigning NECBL Pitcher of the Week also got Schreffler to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the eighth, then struck out the side in the ninth.
The Navs and SwampBats are scheduled to reconvene in Lynn for the second game of the best-of-three series at 6:35 p.m. Thursday. All fans will receive free admission at Fraser Field. If necessary, the third game would be played at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Keene.