Navs Clinch First Win of 2023 in North Adams

06/08/2023 9:21 PM

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Five runs over the final two innings helped the North Shore Navigators beat the North Adams SteepleCats 10-6 for their first win of the New England Collegiate Baseball League season on Thursday night at Joe Wolfe Field.

North Shore and North Adams both moved to 1-1 with the result.

Second baseman Brendan Jones (Holy Cross) went 3-for-5 with a double and four RBI to lead the Navs’ offense, giving him four hits and six driven in over the first two games of the summer. Left fielder Evan Griffis (Stetson) doubled in his final two at-bats to finish 3-for-5, while center fielder Peter Messervy (Harvard) was also a repeat hitter.

Three of the Navs’ six relievers pitched hitless ball in their debut appearances behind starter Nate Espelin (Dayton), and the staff collectively compiled 11 strikeouts. 

Swampscott native Pierce Friedman (Stonehill) was the winner, pitching before a late rally from the offense that included three runs in the eighth inning and two in the ninth. Lynn’s Anthony Mateo (Alabama A&M) closed out the victory, facing four batters in the final frame.

North Adams drew first blood in the bottom of the second, scoring twice when second baseman Sam Sherman (Merrimack) sent a two-out, two-strike double that found grass just over first baseman Brandon Drapeau’s (Saint Joseph’s) head.

The Navs got a run back in their next at-bats as Messervy lined a one-out single off the pitcher, easily stole second base and scored on two wild pitches. Espelin followed with a shutdown inning to finish his outing and keep North Shore’s deficit at one, posting a looking strikeout while retiring the SteepleCats side in order.

A four-run fourth helped North Shore take the lead at 5-2. Shortstop Henry Kaczmar (Ohio State) walked to begin the frame and advanced to second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Jones ripped a game-tying single through the right side. 

Right fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) walked to keep the line moving, and Messervy added a double to right to put the Navs in front. Third baseman Jake Berger’s (Harvard) sacrifice fly with one out punctuated the inning.

Reliever Ross Dexter (UMass Boston) had a strong Navs debut in relief of Espelin, striking out the side in the fifth to complete two scoreless and hitless innings. However, three straight SteepleCats reached and scored to begin the sixth. 

As part of the home team’s response, right fielder Sam Tackett (Virginia Tech) drew a leadoff walk before advancing on designated hitter DM Jefferson’s (Notre Dame) single and a balk. Catcher Jason Shockley (Rutgers) and first baseman Brendan Stannard (Williams) knotted the score with RBI singles, the latter of which came with two outs.

Tristan Ciampa (Northern Essex CC) stranded the pair of runners he inherited from Sawyer Duarte (Middlebury) with two inning-ending strikeouts, then Friedman induced a ground ball to erase two more baserunners in the seventh.

North Shore extended its lead one more time with three runs in the eighth. After Griffis ripped a leading double to left and Kaczmar walked, catcher Matt Chatelle (Merrimack) moved both into scoring position with a perfect sacrifice bunt. 

Jones crushed a go-ahead, two-run double to deep center before crossing the plate himself as McElroy snuck an RBI single through a drawn-in infield, giving the Navs an 8-5 advantage.

Friedman was relieved after issuing back-to-back walks to begin the North Adams eighth. Cooper McGrath (Northeastern) allowed an RBI single to Sherman and then a walk, but three straight strikeouts with the bases loaded halted the hosts’ attempt to rally.

North Shore put the game out of reach with two runs in the ninth. Griffis opened the threat with a ringing double to left, advanced on a Kazcmar grounder and scored as Chatelle’s hard-hit ball ate up the second baseman. Jones capped the scoring with a two-out single to right.

The Navs return home for the first time in 2023 as the Keene SwampBats pay a visit to Fraser Field for a 7:05 p.m. game on Friday night.