Big Hit Eludes Navs in Monday Game at Newport

07/11/2022 7:54 PM

NEWPORT, R.I. -- The North Shore Navigators couldn’t find the big hit as they left 11 men on base in dropping a 3-1 decision to the host Newport Gulls in Monday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) action at Cardines Field.

North Shore slipped to fell to 7-22 as a result of its fourth consecutive loss, while Newport improved its standing atop the NECBL’s Coastal Division with an 18-10 record.

The Navs held the advantage in the hit column for the second straight game at 7-6, led by third baseman Max Viera’s (Seton Hall) 2-for-5 effort from the No. 2 hole in the batting order. Center fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) singled and scored the lone North Shore run.

Southpaw Cooper Smith (Stetson) turned in another outstanding start for the Navs, allowing just two runs (one earned) on four hits and striking out four across six innings. A tough-luck loser who fell to 1-2 on the season, Smith pitched three 1-2-3 innings, worked out of a two-on jam in the fourth, and retired the last five batters he faced.

Newport got the scoring going in the second inning after shortstop Joshua Kuroda-Grauer (Rutgers) singled to center and left fielder Kolton Freeman (Dartmouth) reached on a dropped by ball. A balk moved both runners into scoring position and set up third baseman Slate Alford’s (Mississippi State) two-run double into the left-center gap.

The Gulls’ two runs came after starter Cole Stasio (Baylor) got out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the top half of the frame. North Shore had gotten the offense going quickly as first baseman Connor Bertsch (Dartmouth) ripped a double inside the left-field line and designated hitter Jack Penney (Notre Dame) walked, but two strikeouts and a pop fly ended the threat.

After singles by shortstop Jonathan Luders (Seton Hall) and VIera went to waste in the third inning, the Navs finally found the scoreboard and cut Newport’s lead in half an inning later.

In the fourth, McElroy started the rally with a one-out single up the middle, took second as right fielder Stan DeMartinis (Bryant) reached on an error and scored on catcher Charlie Taylor’s (Tennessee) bloop single to right that included a subsequent throwing error.

North Shore had plenty of chances to tie the score and do even more damage, leaving runners in scoring position after second baseman Ty Dooley’s (Coastal Carolina) leadoff walk in the fifth and McElroy’s one-out free pass in the sixth. 

Viera recorded the Navs’ lone base hit in 2.1 innings against Gulls reliever Chase Renner (Penn State), but second baseman Luke Beckstein (Northeastern) made two plays to get Newport out of the seventh-inning jam. Renner was credited with his second win of the summer, relieving the Newport pair of Stasio and Peter Sakellaris (Virginia Tech). 

The Gulls added a key insurance run in the last of the seventh, starting the rally only after Beckstein’s two-out double. A throwing error allowed designated hitter Trent Farquhar (Michigan State) to reach base and Beckstein to score. In the eighth, Beckstein’s diving stop erased Penney for a fielder’s choice grounder and helped Newport out of another inning.

Dooley knocked a one-out single in the ninth inning, but Liam LeVangie (Bryant) retired back-to-back batters to clinch his first save. The Navs were held to just two hits over the final five innings.

Following Smith, Matt Remley (Holy Cross) struck out a pair of Gulls over two innings of one-hit relief. The St. John’s Prep graduate allowed one unearned run.

Freeman went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Alford drove in a pair of runs to lead the Newport offense.

The Navs finish up their three-game road trip at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they take on the Winnipesaukee Muskrats at Robbie Mills Sports Complex in Laconia, N.H.