Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Navs break out lumber to beat Sanford, 7-6

Zander Kean, Navigators Sports Information Department

After two consecutive shutout losses dropped the team’s record under .500 for the first time this season, the North Shore Navigators’ bats broke out Wednesday night against the Sanford Mainers. The Navigator offense overcame an early four-run deficit to beat the Mainers, 7-6, at Sanford’s Goodall Park.

The Navigators (2-2) did most of the damage in the top of the fifth inning, putting together their most explosive inning of the season. The team sent ten batters to the plate in the inning, with five of them coming around to score to give North Shore the lead for good.

Sean McNaughton opened the inning with a double to deep center, and Mike Provencher knocked a double of his own off the left field wall, sending McNaughton in from second and chasing starter Ryan LaPointe from the game.

Later in the inning, after a throwing error by second baseman Clint Reed allowed Derek Trent to score and tie the game at five, Ryan McCrann belted a two-run triple off Sanford reliever Ryan Cole to cap off the inning.

McNaughton batted fifth in the Navigators’ last game against the Holyoke Blue Sox, but moved over to centerfield and up to the leadoff spot when Justin Little hurt himself in batting practice. He was able to ignite the team’s offense, reaching base four times and scoring the Navs’ first three runs.

“When I was at Brigham Young [University] I led off the entire year and I’ve done that for two years so I enjoy it and I feel more comfortable at the leadoff spot,” he said.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Navs had not scored a run since beating the Vermont Mountaineers, 4-3, on opening night. But they took care of that in the top of the first inning.

After McNaughton worked a walk to lead off the game, Provencher singled to send McNaughton to third. The Navigator centerfielder then scored on a passed ball to give North Shore an early 1-0 lead.

But the Mainers responded in the bottom of the inning, capitalizing on a pair of Navigator errors to take a 2-1 lead. Catcher Kevin Reimer singled to bring in leadoff man Mark Micowski, and Sanford picked up another run after Branson Joseph grounded into a double play.

The Navs’ defensive struggles continued in the second inning. Provencher misjudged a fly ball off the bat of Devin Harris, and McCrann airmailed a throw to first base. Micowski scored on a sacrifice fly to cap off a three-run inning, giving Sanford a 5-1 lead.

Head Coach Jason Falcon attributed the Navigators’ mistakes to early-season jitters.

“It’s their first time here, I think every team’s going to go through a little bit of a transition. I told the guys that the errors we made were more mental than they were physical.”

McNaughton scored on a Tyler Kuehl double in the third inning to cut the deficit to 5-2. The score stayed that way until the Navigators’ big inning in the fifth.

As a team, the Navs had drawn just one walk and had compiled a tiny .232 on-base percentage before tonight’s game. But they turned it around tonight, drawing eight walks to go along with their nine hits.

“It’s swinging at good pitches and having a good pitch selection, and just getting the ball on the ground,” McNaughton said. “When you strike out nothing’s going to happen, so when you put the ball in play something’s going to happen and it’s going to be good.”

Herter settled down after the shaky start, only giving up a solo home run to Sanford’s Branson Joseph. Over six innings he allowed a total of six runs – just two earned – on seven hits. He walked three Mainers against just one strikeout, picking up the win in his first start of the season.

After the game, Herter said that his two-seam fastball was one of his better pitches.

“Fastball felt good, my changeup was working and I struggled with the curveball a little bit,” he said. “But I just battled and tried to use my defense behind me, we’ve got some good players back there.”

Jason Markowitz made his first appearance in a Navigator uniform in relief of Herter. Markowitz battled through two innings, striking out Scott Farrara with two on and two out in the eighth to preserve the one-run lead.

Chris Prescott recorded his second save of the season in the ninth, striking out A.J. Casario to end the game.

Though the Navigators were able to even up their record at 2-2, the victory came with a price. In addition to Little’s injury in batting practice, catcher Dan Coury dislocated a fingertip diving back to second base and is expected to miss at least a week.

The team came in to the night short at the position after Beau Brooks signed with the Los Angeles Angels following the MLB Amateur Draft. But John Hill stepped in after Coury’s injury and threw out three of four runners trying to steal second.

“We were told [Hill] was going to be a big part of the Long Beach [State University defense next year, so we’re very comfortable with him back there,” Falcon said. “This is his first time with these pitchers and he’s doing an outstanding job so far.”

Tomorrow, the Navigators will try to beat Sanford for the second straight night as the Mainers make the trip to Fraser Field. Mike DiCato will deliver his first pitch just after 7:00 PM.

No comments:

Visitor map