07/20/2023 9:30 PM
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The North Shore Navigators turned in one of their most complete performances of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) season Thursday night, routing the host Ocean State Waves 7-0 at Old Mountain Field.
The win pushes the Navs to 18-19, and drops Ocean State to 16-20-1.
Starter Nate Espelin (Seton Hall) was excellent on the bump, tossing seven shutout, three-hit innings to keep the Waves’ bats silent all night long.
At the plate, third baseman Jake Berger (Harvard) and left fielder Stan DeMartinis III (Bentley) — both NECBL All-Stars — powered the Navs with two hits each.
Small ball was a theme in North Shore’s success at the plate, and it all began in the top of the first inning, when designated hitter Jake McElroy (Holy Cross) reached on an error and ultimately shuttled home on a wild pitch two at-bats later.
McElroy scored the Navs’ second run in similar fashion in the third, hustling home from third on a wild pitch after reaching on a hit by pitch to lead off the frame.
From there, Espelin and Swampscott native reliever Pierce Friedman (Stonehill) kept the Waves at bay until North Shore’s bats heated up in the eighth inning — this time, to the tune of five runs.
This time, though, the damage came by way of patience at the plate and a put-the-ball-in-play mentality. Pinch hitter Luca Trigiani (William & Mary) came through with a clutch bases-loaded single to give the Navs’ a 4-0 advantage, plating Berger and his collegiate teammate, center fielder Peter Messervy (Harvard).
Two at-bats later, McElroy scored on first baseman Brandon Drapeau’s (St. Joseph’s) fielder’s choice, and Trigiani scored, too, to make it 6-0 North Shore after a throwing error by Ocean State’s shortstop. Then, to cap things off, right fielder DJ Pacheco (Richmond) added a seventh run by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
Friedman shut the door in the ninth to seal the key Coastal Division victory. Espelin earned the win, moving to 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA. Thursday marked the longest start of his summer, but the Belmont native has now thrown at least five innings in five of his seven outings. It was the southpaw’s third scoreless start.
Friedman pitched two innings for the first time, striking out five without allowing a hit in a dominant performance. He’s now gone two appearances — and three innings — without allowing a hit.
Tomorrow, the Navs will trek down to Norwich, Conn. for a Friday night tangle with the Mystic Schooners at Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium before returning home for the NECBL All-Star Game at Fraser Field Sunday.