Saturday, June 21, 2008

‘Team effort’ allows Navs to silence Gulls, 7-1

Joe Jasinski, Navigators Sports Information Department

One pitch. One run.

Nick Santomauro (Dartmouth) welcomed starting pitcher Mike Gallo and the Navigators to Newport is grand fashion; a first-pitch leadoff home run to right-centerfield.

Seven innings later, the scoreboard still read “One” for Newport, as Gallo marched triumphantly off the mound, en route to his second win of the season.

Behind a three RBI-night from hot-hitting Mike Provencher, The Navigators (7-4) handily defeated the Newport Gulls (6-3) 7-1 in front of 2,152 fans at Cardines Park.

Gallo, whose wicked curveball painted corner after corner, gave up one run on five hits through his seven innings of work, striking out seven batters and walking three. While the gameplan was to “pitch backwards” with first-pitch breaking balls to keep hitters off-balance, the curveball is not usually his inclination, Gallo said.

“Honestly…I am mostly a fastball, slider and changeup pitcher,” Gallo said. “Tonight in the bullpen, you know, I’ve always fooled around with the curveball, and it was dropping in, and I am really happy that I got that going tonight. That was probably a big part of my success.”

The offense began its campaign in the third inning.

After a hit batsman, infield single and walk, to load the bases in the third inning, Provencher knocked in Chad Zurcher for the first Navigator run after beating the throw to first on a weak chopper down the third base line. Jay McConnell then walked to bring in Justin Little. The Navs collected two more runs when Newport third-basemen Alex Gregory (Radford) mishandled a hot shot from Sean McNaughton, bringing home Ryan Kuehl and Provencher.

The threat of proactive baserunning allowed the Navigators to capitalize on mistakes, Head Coach Jason Falcon said.

“I think there was a lot of speed on the base paths for us in that [third inning],” Falcon said. “That third basemen was caught in some tough situations with Justin Little. He just forces guys to make plays. I think the idea of him on the basepaths is what really frightens people.”

Despite the seven run performance, the Navigators did not register a hit out of the infield until the top of the sixth inning, when Chad Zurcher slapped a single to right field.

Nonetheless, the Navigator offense put the game out of hand in the seventh inning.

After Kuehl singled to lead off the inning, Provencher punished a Matt Quinn (Maryland) offering over the right-centerfield fence, plating two more for the Navigators, and increasing the deficit to five. It was Provencher’s third road-tripper in two games.

“[I have been] slowing things down in batting practice a lot,” Provencher said. “Those first couple weeks you get a little antsy against pitchers like this, so you just have to start slowing down the game and it starts working out.”

The Navigators’ bullpen united for two innings of relief; Jason Markowitz with a perfect eighth inning and Chris Kowalski in the ninth. Each pitcher had two strikeouts, totaling 11 for Navigator pitchers on the night.

“You get the good pitching that we have been getting, you know our guys have been going six or seven [innings] deep, we have got to make sure these guys are staying fresh,” Falcon said.

The win keeps the Navigators in second place in the Northern Division, trailing only the Keene Swampbats, who were 8-1 entering Friday night. Newport, who had a 1 ½ game lead on Manchester entering Friday night, remains atop the Southern Division despite the loss.

The Navigators next game is Saturday night against the North Adams Steeplecats. They return to Fraser Field on Monday, June 23 to take on the Torrington Twisters.


Joe Grav said...

Awesome game story, Joe. thanks. I wish i could have been there... unfortunately I had to be at the eye doctor for a long time, and I got some kinda cruddy news, I need surgery to replace my cornea. :O Glad you guys had a better day than I did.

See you either tomorrow or Monday.

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