Drapeau Homer in Big Inning Propels Navs Thursday at Vermont

06/29/2023 8:18 PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The North Shore Navigators made the most of their three total hits and scored all the runs they needed during a four-run fourth inning on the way to a 5-1 win over the host Vermont Mountaineers in Thursday night’s New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) game at Montpelier Recreation Field.

North Shore improved to 8-11 following its fourth win in a five-game span, a feat which it also achieved during the late stages of last summer. Vermont, which entered Thursday one game shy of first place in the North Division, slipped to 13-5-1.

Since rejoining the NECBL in 2021, the Navs are 5-2 in seven trips to Vermont’s capital city. 

First baseman Brandon Drapeau (Saint Joseph’s) had North Shore’s biggest swing of the night, crushing a three-run home run to left field to highlight the big inning. Left fielder Evan Griffis (Stetson) also hit an RBI double and scored a run to help complete the offense.

Left-hander Will Jones (Northeastern) pitched four innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts in his first start of the summer. North Shore pitching struck out 13 collectively, matching a season-high mark.

Following Jones, four Navs relievers combined to pitch five hitless innings to finish the game. Ross Dexter (UMass Boston) was the first out of the bullpen, pitching the first two of those frames and claiming the victory.

Jones worked into and out of trouble for the majority of his outing, stranding Vermont runners on base in each of his first three innings. After Vermont center fielder TJ Williams (Notre Dame) hit a leadoff bunt single, the southpaw from South Hamilton struck out two of the next three to end the opening frame.

Two Mountaineers were left aboard following second baseman Brendan Butterworth’s (NC State) leadoff double in the second. Jones recorded the first two outs of the third before catcher Nathan Waugh (Cornell) doubled, designated hitter George Rosales (Fairleigh Dickinson) was hit by a pitch and Butterworth logged a hard-hit single to load the bases, but striking out Marshall Toole (Wofford) ended the inning.

Jones recorded the last two outs of his first three frames by way of the strikeout before dealing a 1-2-3 fourth. Back-to-back singles by Williams and right fielder Grant Voytovich (Bucknell) started the fifth, and Waugh’s sacrifice fly with Dexter on the mound brought home the Mountaineers’ lone run.

North Shore broke the scoreless deadlock with a four-run fourth that began with Griffis drawing a leadoff walk and catcher Jackson Hornung (Kansas State) reaching a slow-hit ground ball to third base that was scored as an error. 

After shortstop Henry Kaczmar (Ohio State) drew a one-out walk against Vermont reliever Christopher AuClair (D’Youville) two batters later, a wild pitch scored Griffis for the first run. Drapeau later crushed a 1-2 pitch to deep left for a three-run homer that cushioned the visitors’ lead.

North Shore’s bats were also hitless from the fifth through eighth innings, but right fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) walked to begin the ninth. McElroy advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third before easily trotting home as Griffis crushed a two-out double to right.

Dexter exited the game after the sixth inning, making way for Colin Brodeur (Florida Southwestern State) to pitch a scoreless frame with two strikeouts. Kaden Humphrey (Stetson) pitched a clean eighth, while Nick Davis (Northeastern) also fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth to finish the game.

Williams and Butterworth each had two hits for Vermont, which totaled six as a team. Starting pitcher Andrew D’Alessio (Princeton) did not allow a hit over the first 3.1 innings, but he was charged with the loss after allowing the winning runs to reach base.

The Navs return home to Fraser Field on the final day of June, beginning a home-and-home series with the Coastal Division rival Martha’s Vineyard Sharks at 7:05 p.m. Friday. After heading to Oak Bluffs for a Saturday rematch, North Shore will also host the Newport Gulls at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.