06/24/2023 8:34 PM
LYNN, Mass. -- Four pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout as the North Shore Navigators defeated the visiting Valley Blue Sox 4-0 in Saturday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League game at Fraser Field.
North Shore moved to 5-10 on the summer following its second win in a three-game span, while West Division-leading Valley slipped to 8-7 and had a two-game win streak snapped.
Left-handed starter Nate Espelin (Dayton) posted his second consecutive shutout start and earned his first win of the season, allowing just three hits and one walk across six innings. The three North Shore relievers to work in the game included newcomer Evan Blanco (Virginia), who struck out two in a 1-2-3 frame after recently competing at the College World Series.
Catcher Jacob Jarrell (Clemson) and right fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) each had two hits and scored a run to lead the North Shore offense. Third baseman Jake Berger (Harvard) reached base four times on three walks and a hit by pitch while scoring the first run.
The Navs jumped on the scoreboard right away in the first inning, loading the bases before Valley starting pitcher Kurtis Thomas (Central Connecticut State) recorded an out and ultimately scoring an opening run that stood up for several innings.
Berger drew a leadoff walk and advanced into scoring position as center fielder Peter Messervy (Harvard) was hit by a pitch and first baseman Jackson Hornung’s (Kansas State) singled up the middle. DeMartinis drove home the opening run with a long sacrifice fly to left field, marking his ninth RBI in eight games since returning to the team.
The North Shore defense stepped up to support Espelin in the early stages of the game, turning double plays in both the second and third innings following a 1-2-3 first. Espelin started the first of those twin killings himself, while the latter allowed him to work around a pair of base hits.
Catcher Jacob Jarrell (Clemson) started North Shore’s two-run fourth inning with a double deep into the left-field corner. Second baseman Brendan Jones (Holy Cross) moved Jarrell ahead 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt, and McElroy’s RBI single into shallow right plated a run. McElroy made it 3-0, scoring on a wild pitch after stealing second and reaching third on a passed ball.
DeMartinis was hit by a one-out pitch to set the table for an additional run in the fifth inning. After Jarrell hit a two-out infield single, a wild pitch allowed him to move all the way to third as DeMartinis crossed the plate.
Espelin retired the last five Blue Sox he faced and completed his outing on just 62 pitches. Reliever Kaden Humphrey (Stetson) worked around a hit and a walk in the seventh before Blanco breezed through the eighth. Tristan Ciampa (Northern Essex CC) finished the game in 1-2-3 fashion, ensuring the Navs’ first shutout of 2023 and their third win in four meetings with Valley over the last two summers.
Second baseman Eliot Dix (North Carolina) had two of Valley’s four hits. Thomas took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits and four walks in four innings.
The Navs return to the road for a Sunday matinee against the Mystic Schooners. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich, Conn.