06/26/2023 7:11 PM
LYNN, Mass. — In a back-and-forth showdown with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, Jake Berger’s strong day at the plate and lockdown relief pitching delivered the North Shore Navigators a pivotal 4-3 victory Monday night at Fraser Field.
The win moves North Shore to 7-10 and marks the Navs’ third consecutive triumph. Martha’s Vineyard dropped to 6-9 with the loss. As a result, the two teams are now locked in a virtual tie for fourth place in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s (NECBL) Coastal Division standings.
Berger, a third baseman from Harvard, cranked three hits to pace the Navs’ offense, including the go-ahead RBI double in the seventh. Left fielder Evan Griffis (Stetson) added a pair of knocks, and right fielder Stan DeMartinis III (Bentley) reached base twice via a single and a walk.
Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) cemented his name in Navigators history with a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning, which marked his franchise-record 131st game played. And, to make his moment a little bit sweeter, the North Andover native lined a base hit into center field.
Starter Brett Dunham (Northeastern) put together another impressive outing for North Shore. The right-hander struck out six and allowed three hits and two runs in four innings of work against the Sharks, a top-three offense in the NECBL entering the contest.
The Navs’ bullpen also came up clutch in relief of Dunham. Kaden Humphrey (Stetson) retired every hitter he saw in 2.1 innings of work en route to a winning decision, including three strikeouts. Then, Tristan Ciampa (Northern Essex CC) worked a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to lock down the win and earn the save.
North Shore took a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the second. The Navs loaded the bases after designated hitter Mike LaRocca (Florida Atlantic), Griffis and DeMartinis rattled off consecutive base hits to start the frame. Catcher Jacob Jarrell (Clemson) cashed in on the opportunity, lifting a sacrifice fly deep into left-center field to deliver the lead.
In the top of the fourth, though, second baseman Nolan Nawrocki (Clemson) earned the Sharks a 2-1 lead with a line two-run single into left field. After Dunham notched a strikeout for the second out of the frame, Jones tossed to the plate to Jarrell to retire Vineyard shortstop Gio Colasante (Harvard), who tried to swipe home plate on a double-steal attempt.
Fresh off that momentum-shifting play, North Shore tied things up in the bottom half of the inning. Shortstop Henry Kaczmar (Ohio State) belted an RBI single to center to drive home Griffis, who singled to start the inning.
Martha’s Vineyard retook the lead in the fifth after designated hitter Scott Seeker (Mount St. Mary’s) cranked an RBI single to left, but North Shore knotted the score once again in the bottom half of the frame when Berger, who knocked a leadoff double down the left field line, shuttled home on a wild pitch.
The Sharks threatened to take the lead yet again in the top of the sixth — loading the bases on three consecutive walks — but Humphrey took the mound and promptly induced a key groundout to shortstop to end the rally.
Humphrey followed that up with an impressive 1-2-3 seventh inning against the heart of the Vineyard lineup, highlighted by a pair of strikeouts.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Berger delivered once again. The third baseman ripped his third hit of the game, a double into right-center field, which allowed Jones — who reached on a walk — to score all the way from first base and earn the Navs a 4-3 advantage.
North Shore completes its brief two-game homestand with a 6:35 p.m. Tuesday game against the Sanford Mainers.