Buckler, Moroney Help Navs Roll Past Gulls for Third Straight Win

06/29/2024 6:08 PM

LYNN, Mass — Backed by explosive hitting and another strong pitching performance, the North Shore Navigators downed the Newport Gulls 8-3 in New England Collegiate Baseball League action on Saturday at Fraser Field.

The win was North Shore’s season-high third straight and second in as many meetings with Coastal Division-leading Newport this season, upping its record to 9-9 on the season. Newport fell to 12-7.

The win is the first time the Navigators have won back-to-back home games this season and marks their largest margin of victory.

“I hope we keep it rolling,” manager Bob Macaluso said on the back-to-back home wins. “We want to be good at home, and the turf is good for us because we (have) team speed.”

The Navigators ended Friday’s game against Danbury with a three-run eighth inning, and they picked up right where they left off on Saturday with a three-run third. Reece Moroney (Rhode Island) started the inning by scorching a base hit into right field that scored Will Burns (Maine) and Danny MacDougall (Endicott). Moroney then stole second base, allowing Jesse Jaconski (Penn State) to drive in Moroney on the third right-field base hit of the inning.

Moroney produced all game for the Navigators, recording a season-high three RBI. The shortstop went 2-for-4 and was one of two Navigators to reach base safely three times. He did all his damage on the right half of the diamond, as all his hits and RBI came from right field.

The other player to reach base safely three times for the Navigators was MacDougall. While he didn’t produce an RBI, he contributed in nearly every other way. He went 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs and a walk.

Aggressive base running continued to aid the Navigators in the following inning as an errant throw into center field on a double steal allowed Ryan Wideman (Western Kentucky) to score, growing the lead to 4-0.

“The bats really came alive today,” Macaluso said. “I think that’ll be key for us (going forward).”

In the sixth, the Navigators continued to score as a sacrifice fly by Burns and a double down the right-field line by Moroney ballooned the lead to 7-0. The inning marked the Navigators’ second three-run inning of the game and put the game well out of reach.

On the mound, the Navigators continued to stifle their opponents. The pitching staff shut out Danbury on Friday and entered Saturday’s contest with an NECBL third-best 1.32 WHIP.

Ryan Buckler (Florida Atlantic) led the way for the pitching staff. Buckler started the season in the bullpen but transitioned to the starting rotation on June 24. Saturday marked just his second start, and he showcased impeccable command. He consistently drew swings and misses out of the strike zone, producing five strikeouts and just four hits through six innings pitched.

“I think the big thing for me really was no walks,” Buckler said of his performance. “That was my struggle over at (Virginia Tech in the spring) but…I had all my pitches working and all of them for strikes.”

When Buckler was relieved to start the seventh inning, the bullpen continued to produce strikeouts. The duo of Ryan Griffin (Northeastern) and Peabody native Ryan Bradley (Bryant) produced four strikeouts through the final three innings.

The Navigators will cap off their three-game weekend homestand on Sunday at 5:05 p.m. when they face the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks for the second time in the last six days. 

Sunday’s festivities will begin with the “Battle of the Badges II” as the Lynn Police and Fire Departments will face off in their first-ever charity softball game at 2:30 p.m. The day will feature the Boston Bruins’ own Todd Angilly singing the national anthem before the softball game, as well as the Navs Nation favorite event, “Bark in the Park” presented by our friends at Healthy Pet.