Westerners Walk Off Navs in Wild Independence Day Contest

07/04/2024 10:06 PM

DANBURY, Conn. 一 Late-inning fireworks helped the North Shore Navigators come back from 11-1 down after six innings, but the Danbury Westerners ultimately walked off for a 13-12 win in Thursday’s New England Collegiate Baseball League action at Rogers Park.

North Shore climbed out of its double-digit deficit with 11 unanswered runs across the final four innings, tying the game on catcher Will Burns’ (Maine) two-run double off the right-center field wall in the ninth. Also off the bench, right fielder Alex Luccini (UMass Lowell) sent a two-out double deep into the corner in the 10th to give the Navs their first lead of the game at 12-11.

The Navs were unable to break through in their third straight extra-inning game, however, and slipped to 9-12 on the summer after reserve second baseman Hayden Miller (College of Charleston) hit a two-run homer to walk off and win the game for Danbury. 

Shortstop Reece Moroney (Rhode Island) extended his hit streak to four games in a big way, going 2-for-2 with an RBI, three runs scored and four walks to lead the Navs’ 13-hit offensive attack. Right fielder Ryan Wideman (Western Kentucky) went 2-for-3 with a run scored. North Shore's rally in the late innings also included right fielder Ryan Gerety (Northeastern) hitting his first home run of the season.

North Shore starter Zach Gleason (Rutgers) stranded two Danbury runners aboard in the opening frame with the help of his first of three strikeouts, but Danbury’s second inning saw second baseman Ryan Preisano (Wake Forest) hit a go-ahead solo homer with two outs.

The Navs quickly bounced back in the third, manufacturing a tying run on three hits. Wideman ripped a leadoff base hit before moving across the diamond on consecutive grounders by second baseman Brendan Jones (Holy Cross) and center fielder Kyle Jones (Stetson). Moroney’s knock up the middle produced the tying run.

The long ball allowed Danbury to build upon its lead over the next four innings. First baseman Matt Bucciero (Fairfield) hit a three-run homer in the third and a two-run shot in the fourth, helping to fuel his 4-for-6, six-RBI performance.

North Shore’s offense exploded for four runs while batting around in both the seventh and eighth innings, cutting its deficit to two at 11-9. A total of five Danbury errors over those frames also fueled the wild comeback effort.

In the seventh, two errors brought the Navs into a bases-loaded, two-out situation, and pinch-hitting catcher Ryan MacDougall’s (Dayton) two-run single up the middle turned the score to 11-4. After first baseman Andrew Bianco (Seton Hall) reached on an error to drive home a run, third baseman Danny MacDougall (Endicott) singled past shortstop for an RBI of his own.

Gerety’s one-out solo homer to right-center sparked the Navs again in the eighth. Another big inning continued as Moroney walked, left fielder Brady Dever (Brown) singled and pinch-hitting designated hitter Sonny Rao’s (Northwestern) reached on error plated another run. 

Jack Iannibelli (Stonehill) held Danbury scoreless for the first time since the first inning in the sixth, and Justin Posnik (Bentley) followed with a zero of his own in the seventh. Despite a half-hour delay following a hit by pitch that led to a plethora of ejections in Danbury’s eighth, the visitors logged another scoreless frame between the duo of Nick Reiser (Bridgewater State) and Joe Castrichini (Stonehill). 

After two walks in the ninth, Tim McGuire (Sacred Heart) scored ahead of Moroney on Burns’ game-tying double. Castrichini worked around a one-out hit batter in the ninth to force extras and set up Luccini’s go-ahead RBI opportunity. Pinch runner Truman Pauley (Harvard) advanced to third on Bianco’s sacrifice bunt and scored on the Luccini double, which marked his first RBI of the summer. 

The Navs return home to Fraser Field for two upcoming games over the holiday weekend, hosting the Coastal Division rival Mystic Schooners at 6:05 p.m. Friday and the Vermont Mountaineers at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.