The North Shore Navigators came into Thursday night’s game against the Keene Swamp Bats still looking for their first home run of the 2008 NECBL season.
And in the top of the eighth, Mike Provencher delivered, sending a 3-2 offering from Swamp Bat reliever Adam Kolarek sailing over the short porch in right-center. He did it again the following inning, this time to left-center off closer Matt Jebb.
But the bombs weren’t enough, as
The Navigators (6-4) looked poised to get the offense going against
But that first hit wasn’t cheap, as
DiCato then struck out John Barr, but gave up a run-scoring single to Paul Karmas, putting the Swamp Bats ahead, 2-0. With runners on second and third, DiCato bounced back to fan designated hitter John Chester, preventing any further damage.
The Navigators had their best chance to score against Wise in the seventh inning. Justin Little and Tyler Kuehl led off the inning with back-to-back singles, putting the Navs’ fastest runner in scoring position with nobody out.
But Wise struck out John Hill and Nick Belcher, and got McNaughton to ground out to short, ending the rally. Wise left after the inning, giving up just three hits. He struck out four Navigators and walked one.
The Swamp Bats doubled their lead in the bottom of the inning on a pair of solo home runs by Petro and Casey McGrew. Jose Macias then chased DiCato from the game with a single to right.
In his six and one-third innings on the mound, DiCato gave up four runs – all earned – on six hits. He did demonstrate excellent control, striking out seven Swamp Bats against not a single walk.
After Provencher’s blast in the eighth cut the deficit to 4-1, pinch hitter Jay McConnell nearly gave the Navigators their second home run of the inning – and the season. He drove a Kolarek pitch deep to right, but McGrew ran under it and made the catch just in front of the 354-foot wall.
The Navigators gave it the old college try in the top of the ninth. Hill reached on a throwing error and came around to score on a Belcher groundout. Provencher’s second dinger cut the deficit to one, but Jebb got Fatse to pop out to short to record the final out.
Though the bats didn’t always come through, the Navs put together a few stellar defensive plays in the field. Centerfielder Justin Little – in just his second start since returning from an arm injury – made a backhanded diving catch in the second inning.
Then in the eighth, Chad Zurcher made a leaping grab at shortstop, doubling off the runner on first.
With the loss, the Navigators fell two-and-a-half games behind the Swamp Bats in the NECBL Northern Divison. The team continues its six-game road trip tomorrow night against the Newport Gulls.