Joseph Gravellese, Navigators Sports Information Department
It was not exactly a game for the archives - but it was a win. The North Shore Navigators (5-2) topped the Sanford Mainers, 8-4, in a sloppy game at Fraser Field. It was North Shore’s third victory over Sanford this week, and their 4th win in a row overall.
The game was characterized by the Mainers’ defensive struggles. Sanford made a total of five errors in the game, including one that led to the game-tying run in the 5th inning.
With the Mainers leading 2-1, Sean McNaughton led off with a base hit to shallow centerfield. The speedy McNaughton agitated Sanford pitcher Nick Cenatiempo. He made several pickoff attempts to first, and with one out and John Hill at the plate, he finally made an errant throw that went over the head of first baseman Kyle Groth. McNaughton sped past 2nd and on to 3rd base, where Groth’s throw skipped past Greg Hopkins, allowing McNaughton to score.
"Speed definitely forces a defense to make plays," Head Coach Jason Falcon said. "And Sean [McNaughton] has got a lot of speed."
The Navigators took advantage of more dodgy fielding in the home half of the 6th to take the lead. With two out, Peter Fatse sliced a double down the left field line that just barely fell in to the right of the chalk. He advanced to third on a passed ball, then came in to score when Ryan McCrann’s grounder to first kicked off of Groth’s glove.
Groth’s third error of the game gave the Navigators an insurance run in the 8th. Derek Trent singled to left before giving way to pinch runner Justin Little, who stole second base. Mike Provencher dropped down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but the throw to first was booted by Groth, allowing Provencher to reach and bringing home Little with the fourth North Shore run.
After that play, the wheels came off for Sanford pitcher Ryan Lapointe, giving up four more runs including an RBI single by Kyle Geason to increase the Navigators’ lead to 8-2.
Jason Markowitz was the winning pitcher for North Shore, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings and working out of major trouble in the top of the sixth.
Markowitz walked the first two batters he faced in the inning, but he battled back, striking out A.J. Casario and Klint Reed fortwo crucial outs. Will Greenberg then hit a hard ground ball to first that Ryan McCran stopped with a dive to his right, flipping it to Markowitz at first to end the inning.
Chris Kowalski continued his impressive start to the summer, pitching 2 2/3 solid innings to close out the game for the Navigators and earn his first save of the season.
North Shore starting pitcher Wayde Kitchens picked up a five inning no decision. The 6’6’’ righty from Chapman University gave up one earned run on six hits.
"I felt good," Kitchens said. "I was in a different mood today, it was weird. I don't know. I was not how I usually am before starts. But my fastball and curveball were working really well, so, I felt good."
The pitching staff has a long way to go, but what he has seen so far looks good, Falcon said.
"A lot of these pitchers hadn’t thrown since their season finished," Falcon said. "Now they have got their feet wet, they have gotten their innings in, now we can start to determine who are going to be our starters and who are going to be our relief guys."
North Shore has an off day tomorrow before embarking on a six game road trip, making stops in Manchester, Holyoke, Keene, Newport, North Adams, and Torrington. They return to Fraser Field on June 23 for a game against the Torrington Twisters. Fans can keep up to date with the Navigators at the team’s official website, www.nsnavs.com.