Friday, June 13, 2008

Belcher, Navs Keep Lowell Winless

by Stephen Delvecchio, North Shore Navigators Sports Information Department


The Lowell All-Americans set out to collect their first victory of the young season Sunday evening at Fraser Field, but the hot bats of the North Shore Navigators stood in their way. The Navigators struggled through the first four innings of the contest and could not seem to put together a string of hits against a sharp Dan Lozeau of Lowell.

Pitching opposite him at the start of the game was North Shore’s Mike Gallo (1-0), who pitched five and two thirds innings, giving up only two earned runs on eight hits while striking out two and most importantly for his club, putting the Navigators in position to win.

Lozeau, making his first start of the summer for the All-Americans, looked as though he would be tough to hit all night until he ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning.

With the support of RBI singles by right fielder Kevin Rivers in the first and designated hitter Chris Rouches in the fourth, the All-Americans sent Lozeau to the mound in the bottom of the fifth with a 2-0 lead.

Navigators’ right fielder Peter Fatse singled to lead off the fifth and was able to go from first to third when Kyle Geason followed suit with a single of his own. Fatse then scored on a base hit off of the red-hot bat of North Shore’s leadoff hitter, Sean McNaughton, who had another impressive night at the plate going two for three with a walk, run scored, and a run batted in.

“I think in the beginning he was a little worried about what was going on with the draft,” Navigators Head Coach Jason Falcon said of McNaughton. “Now he’s settling in and he’s comfortable. He’s playing very well. It’s great to have a guy who can run and swing the bat the way he can.”

Tyler Keuhl then ripped a single which scored Geason to tie the game at 2-2. Lynn Native Corey Moore replaced starting pitcher Dan Lozeau and was able to get the All-Americans out of any further damage for the time being.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Navigators were able to get to Moore. Taking advantage of another Sean McNaughton base hit, the Navigators managed to load the bases. Shortstop Nick Belcher then broke the game open with a bases clearing double to the gap in left-center field that gave the Navigators a 5-2 lead. Belcher, leading the assault for the Navs, finished the night with two hits and three runs batted in.

“I’d faced the pitcher before, and I got some pitches to hit and grounded out,” Belcher said. “I figured I’d get a fastball, and second pitch he put one inner half that I was able to get good wood on.”

The Navigators’ bullpen continued their dominance tonight, pitching a combined three and a third innings to close the game out and help their team win its third straight game. Jason Markowitz earned his first win of the season, while Chris Prescott picked up his third save. Head Coach Jason Falcon has been very pleased with Prescott’s ability to convert saves thus far.

“In this league, it means everything to have a guy who can come in and shut teams down,” Falcon said. “He’s able to come in and get first pitch strikes, which is huge in any league.”

Chris Kowalski also continued his effectiveness, making yet another contribution to closing the door on an opponent by giving up no hits and yielding no runs. The three relievers have only allowed one run this season between them in a combined nine appearances.

The Navigators square off against the USA Olympic Baseball Player Pool tomorrow night in an exciting exhibition match.

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