Navs Split Home Doubleheader with Nighthawks Saturday

07/15/2023 7:39 PM

LYNN, Mass. — The North Shore Navigators battled to a split with the Upper Valley Nighthawks in a New England Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader at Fraser Field Saturday. 

The Navs posted a 5-4 win in the first contest, and dropped the second game, 7-3. 

With the results, North Shore moves to 16-17, and Upper Valley jumps to 16-14. Due to the doubleheader, both games were shortened to seven innings.

North Shore’s win in the first game was thanks to a three-run rally in the fifth inning and yet another gem on the bump from starter Nate Espelin (Dayton).

First baseman Brandon Drapeau (Saint Joseph’s) went 2-for-3 with a single and an RBI double to lead the Navs. Espelin earned the win, pitching five innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts.

North Shore got the offense brewing early. Third basebman Jake Berger (Harvard) smacked a leadoff base hit into left field in the top of the first, and ultimately shuttled home from third base on a wild pitch three at-bats later. 

Catcher Jacob Jarrell (Clemson) ripped an RBI triple into the left-center gap in the top of the second, driving home left fielder Stan DeMartinis III (Bentley), who reached base after getting hit by a pitch.

Upper Valley cut the Navs’ lead in half in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a two-out RBI single by third baseman Pat D’Amico (Seton Hall). Espelin did well to get out of the inning without further damage, though, striking out the next batter to end the inning and strand two. 

But North Shore responded with a fifth-inning burst to open things up. After Berger was hit by a pitch, designated hitter Matt Chatelle (Merrimack) cranked a two-out RBI double to the left-center gap, the first of three consecutive RBI hits by North Shore. Center fielder Evan Griffis (Stetson) followed suit with an RBI single up the middle to score Chatelle, and Drapeau capped the frame with a towering double to left-center, which scored Griffis. 

Second baseman Nickolas Monistere (Southern Miss.) hit a two-run home run to left field to bring Upper Valley within two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Kaden Humphrey (Stetson) — who entered in relief of Espelin — induced a key 4-6-3 double play to end the frame and evade further damage. 

The Nighthawks added a run in the bottom of the seventh after Monistere slapped an RBI single, but DeMartinis made an outstanding sliding catch in foul territory down the left field line to seal the win with a flair. Colin Brodeur (Florida Southwestern State) pitched the final frame, notching his second save of the season. 

In the second game, right fielder and Danvers native DJ Pacheco (Richmond) led the way with three singles, and third baseman Tanner Zellem (Tennessee) reached twice on a double and a hit-by-pitch. Starter Brett Dunham (Northeastern) struck out three in four innings on the mound.

Upper Valley jumped out to a quick advantage in the nightcap. Shortstop Tyler Long (Mt. St. Mary’s) drove in the first run with a base hit, and the Nighthawks added a second on a bases-loaded walk. Dunham quickly settled in, striking out two consecutive batters to limit the damage and end the inning. 

North Shore got on the board in the bottom of the second, when Zellem doubled home Griffis, who knocked a leadoff double himself. 

Upper Valley extended its advantage again in the fourth on Long’s second RBI single of the game, but the Navs struck back in the bottom of the fifth. Zellem scored on a throwing error after an infield hit by Pacheco to make it a one-run game once again. 

The Nighthawks opened the game up with a four-run rally in the top of the seventh, capped by a two-run double by right fielder Steve Harrington (Hofstra). 

North Shore didn’t go down quietly in the ninth, scoring a third run on Pacheco’s RBI base hit, but Upper Valley closed out the rest of the frame to cement the victory.

Jack Iannibelli (Stonehill) worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning, and Peabody native Ryan Bradley (Bryant) struck out the side in the top of the sixth. Croix Jenkins (NJIT) pitched the top of the seventh.

The doubleheader was scheduled after the first meeting between the two teams, initially slated for June 28 at Upper Valley, was postponed due to inclement weather. As a result, Upper Valley was the designated home team in the first game.

North Shore is scheduled to play the fourth contest of its five-game homestand tomorrow against the North Adams SteepleCats. First pitch at Fraser is set for 5:05 p.m.