Clark Deals Eight Shutout Innings as Navs Down Newport

07/09/2023 5:58 PM

LYNN, Mass. -- An incredible starting pitching performance and a two-run fourth inning lifted the North Shore Navigators to a 2-0 shutout win over the New England Collegiate Baseball League-best Newport Gulls on Sunday night at Fraser Field.

North Shore improved to 13-15 following its third consecutive win, while Newport is 21-6 with two of its losses coming to the Navigators.

Brayden Clark (Salve Regina) sparkled over eight scoreless innings, striking out six while allowing just three hits and not walking a batter. The Beverly native has pitched shutout ball in three of his five starts and now has just a 0.93 ERA across 29 innings this summer. Clark is the second North Shore pitcher in as many summers to post an eight-inning outing after Matt Potok (Coastal Carolina) shut out Keene with the help of 11 strikeouts in a July 21, 2022 win.

On the offensive side, catcher Matt Chatelle (Merrimack) went 2-for-4 while shortstop Henry Kaczmar (Ohio State) and center fielder Evan Griffis (Stetson) drove in runs for North Shore.

Right fielder Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) drew a leadoff walk before safely sliding into second on second baseman Brendan Jones’ (Holy Cross) fielder’s choice. Kaczmar snuck a one-out single through the right side to score McElroy with the opening run of the game. 

North Shore doubled its lead in unique fashion a batter later, marking the end of Newport starter Nolan Pender’s (Bellarmine) outing. Griffis lifted a foul pop that catcher Ryan Proto (UMass Lowell) squeezed for an out in foul territory on the first-base side, but Jones made a heads-up play to tag up from third and slide in ahead of the diving Proto’s tag.

Clark made the two-run inning stand up with incredible ease. Newport center fielder Niko Brini (UConn) lined a leadoff single to center and stranded a runner aboard after two ground balls ended the first inning.

From there, Clark stepped into cruise control. The righty pitched a 1-2-3 second, faced the minimum as Chatelle caught Proto attempting to steal second base, and retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth. Clark worked around Brini’s second hit and a following throwing error in the sixth, but a fielder’s choice grounder got him out of the inning unscathed.

Clark racked up strikeouts in his final two innings, notching four consecutive strikeouts between the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth to finish his outing in an incredible 85 pitches. Both were 1-2-3 frames.

Colin Brodeur (Florida Southwestern State) allowed a leadoff double to Newport third baseman Slate Alford (Mississippi State), but he punctuated the game with a strikeout for his first save of the summer.

Pender took the loss after allowing both Navs runs over the first 2.2 innings. He has pitched in both of Newport’s setbacks to North Shore this season. Brini had two of Newport’s four hits.

The Navs are scheduled to finish a two-game homestand at Fraser Field with a 6:35 p.m. Monday visit from the Bristol Blues.