Saturday, June 7, 2008

Navs Squeak by Vermont in Fraser Opener, 4-3

Joseph Gravellese, North Shore Navigators Sports Information Department

On a steamy opening night at Fraser Field, the North Shore Navigators introduced themselves to the Lynn crowd in style, topping the defending champion Vermont Mountaineers 4-3. Mike Gallo (1-0), a Peabody native, picked up the victory for the Navigators, pitching a 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Josh Syberg (0-1) took the loss for Vermont, yielding 4 runs on 10 hits.

“It’s good to beat a quality team to start the season,” said head coach Jason Falcon. “There’s still a long way to go, but any time you can win the opener, it’s good. We got some of the kinks out.

The Navigators trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the 6th inning when Kent Graham, a member of Trinity College’s Division 3 national championship team, worked a leadoff walk off of Syberg to start a rally. Nick Belcher’s sacrifice bunt attempt was mishandled by Vermont catcher Jon Hurst, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.

After Peter Fatse struck out looking for the first out of the inning, pinch hitter Ryan McCrann hit a hard grounder toward shortstop Jon Roof. Roof fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw pulled second baseman Greg Sherry off the bag, loading the bases.

Then, Tyler Kuehl chopped a base hit up the middle. Graham and Belcher came around to score and put North Shore on top, 4-3.

“He got me 2-2 and I had to battle off a few pitches,” said Kuehl after the game. “I had to get something through the middle. Luckily I got a good piece of one and it got through.”

In the top of the 7th, Kuehl’s glove would play a big role in preserving the Navs’ slim advantage.

After Gallo walked the first two batters of the inning, Steven Felix dropped a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position with one away. Matt Duffy then hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out.

The next batter, University of Vermont star Ethan Paquette, hit a bounding ball up the middle that appeared ticketed for centerfield, but Kuehl was there, ranging to his right to make the play and retire the side.

“I thought Nick (Belcher) would have it so I overran it, but you know, things happened,” laughed Kuehl after the game.

Chris Prescott, a junior at St. Joseph’s University, came in and pitched two innings of shut-down relief to earn the save. He struck out two and retired all six batters he faced.

“I just wanted to make a good impression my first time out,” said Prescott. “I wasn’t trying to do too much, I just wanted to get the job done.”

Springfield College junior Jimmy Lisowski started for the Navigators, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 5.2 innings of work.

“LIsowski battled all game,” said Falcon. “He didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us good innings and gave us a chance to win.”

In order to put his team in position to win, Lisowski had to overcome a mistake-plagued 4th inning. The Mountaineers scored three times to take a 3-1 lead, aided by a walk, three passed balls, and a throwing error by catcher John Hill.

Lisowski battled through it, pitching a scoreless 5th inning and earning two outs in the 6th before giving way to Gallo.

The Navigators chipped away at Vermont’s lead in the bottom of the 5th when Sean McNaughton’s double to the wall in left field scored Justin Little to make it 3-2, setting up the go-ahead 6th inning rally.

“I think I share Coach Falcon’s gratification at being able to knock off Vermont,” joked owner Phil Rosenfield after the game, referring to the fact that it was the Mountaineers who ended the Holyoke Giants’ playoff run last season. “It’s a good sign that we are once again a gritty, competitive, hard team to beat.”

The team was appreciative of the supportive Fraser Field crowd of 1,106.

“What a great baseball vibe,” said Kuehl after the game. “I haven’t felt that in a while.”

The team returns to action tomorrow night at 6:05 against the Keene Swamp Bats. Mike Adams of Franklin Pierce University will toe the rubber for North Shore. Fans can check out for more information.


Navs staffer Joseph Jasinski contributed to this report


DaveCo said...

Being used to the Spirit I wasn't expecting as much as tonight delivered. The crowd was good and the team was even better.

I can tell....this is going to be a good summer.

Joe Grav said...

I like the way you think.

Anonymous said...

Great game, we will definitely be back!

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