Monday, June 23, 2008

Navs Weekly Wrap: 6/16 - 6/23

This past week the Navs took to the road, six games in six days that took the team through four of New England's six states. The team emerged from the season's longest road trip where they started - second place in the NECBL Northern Division. With today's game against Torrington postponed and a scheduled off-day tomorrow, the Navs get a well deserved break before heading out to Pittsfield on Wednesday.

Game Capsules

6/17: Manchester 8, Navs 4
The Silkworm offense got to starter Mike Adams early and often, opening up a 7-1 lead. The Navigators did mount a rally in the seventh to cut the deficit to 7-4, but left two runners on base in the inning. Manchester did not give the Navs another opportunity, handing the team its first road loss of the season.

6/18: Navs 4, Holyoke 1
Adam Herter got the ball for the Navs on Wednesday and got the squad back on track, allowing no earned runs in his six innings. The Navs opened up a 4-0 lead and never looked back, with the eventual winning run coming on an RBI groundout by Tyler Kuehl. The win brought the Navs' overall record to 6-3.

6/19: Keene 4, Navs 3
Thursday's game matched the top two teams in the Northern Division, as Keene came into the game at 7-1. The story of this one was the long ball - as Mike Provencher hit the Navs' first two home runs of the season. But the Swamp Bats came up with three of their own off North Shore starter Mike DiCato and dropped the Navs to 1-2 at the road trip's halfway point.

6/20: Navs 7, Newport 1
The Navs scored four runs in the top of the third and never looked back en route to a blowout win over the Southern Divison leading Gulls. Starter Mike Gallo gave up a home run on the first pitch he threw, but yielded nothing else over seven standout innings. Provencher blasted his third homer in two days to cap off the Navigator victory.

6/21: Navs 3, North Adams 2
Jimmy Lisowski and Nick Serino dueled for the first six innings, leaving the score tied at 2 heading into the top of the ninth. From there, a pair of subs gave North Shore the go-ahead run, as John Hill hit a pinch-hit single up the middle to score pinch runner Chad Zurcher. The win gave the Navs a 3-2 record on the road trip with the finale in Torrington coming up.

6/22: Torrington 3, Navs 2
This game unfolded as a mirror image of the previous night's in North Adams. Down 2-1 in the ninth, Sean McNaughton's sacrifice fly scored Provencher to tie the game, but Torrington came up with a 2-out single off Chris Kowalski to send in the game-winning run. The loss dropped the Navs 1.5 games behind Keene in the North Divison race.

Each starter gets a shot
To this point, head coach Jason Falcon has not veered from the team's six-man rotation. Last week, he told me that he planned to eventually cut the rotation down to five and have one pitcher in a long relief role, but so far that hasn't happened. Though fans of major league baseball might be thrown off by the six-man rotation, most of the Navs' pitchers are used to it, in a sense.

Typically in college baseball, where there are three-game series each weekend, starters will pitch on a particular day of the week. For example, at my school (Miami), Chris Hernandez pitched every Friday, Eric Erickson every Saturday and Enrique Garcia every Sunday. Since NECBL teams play five to six games each week with off-days thrown in, the schedule allows for a similar setup that these pitchers are used to. Lisowski - who has pitched each Saturday so far - feels that the extra day's rest provided by the six-man rotation will be beneficial.

"This whole year at school I've pretty much been going off six days' rest, coming in every weekend. So coming here it's been the same thing. It gives me plenty of rest, and we've got a six-man rotation, which gives each starting pitcher a good chunk of time to rest. It's going to help us in the long run."

And the rotation is helping in the short term as well. Coming into today's action, the Navs have a league-leading 2.20 team ERA.

Offense goes deep, finally!
It might be a bit of a misnomer to say that the Navs hit their first three home runs this week, as all three came off the bat of Mike Provencher. But for a team that is built to piece together runs and play smallball, four-baggers are only going to help. Though so far Provencher is the only guy to put one out during a game, Sean McNaughton has come close several times, including a wall-ball last night in Torrington. Fraser Field's fences are deep, especially compared to the incredibly short centerfield in Keene and the 310-foot left field porch in Torrington, but as the lineup gets more comfortable hitting with wood the home run total should pick up.

But so far, the Navs haven't needed the long ball to win games. Since the players arrived at the beginning of the month, Coach Falcon has felt that the team will be able to win with speed and smart baserunning, and so far they've done that. Against Newport, the Navs didn't get a hit out of the infield in the third inning, but scored four runs anyway. Leadoff hitter Justin Little leads the team with six stolen bases, but McNaughton (5) and Provencher (4) aren't far behind.

This week's schedule
Wed. 6/25: @ Pittsfield
Thu. 6/26: vs. Manchester
Fri. 6/27: @ Vermont
Sat. 6/28: vs. Vermont
Sun. 6/29: vs. Lowell
Mon. 6/30: vs. Holyoke

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