Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday's Games

It was just pouring here in Holyoke, we're talking rain coming down at a 45-degree angle for about a half hour. It's sunny right now, an the grounds crew is trying to make the infield playable again. There is apparently more bad weather on the way, so we're not sure what's going to happen. There's only one internet connection at this park, but if the game(s) are called I will try to hop on and post something.

Navs split doubleheader against Holyoke

Zander Kean, Navigators Sports Information Department

For the second time in as many days, the North Shore Navigators played a 7-inning doubleheader. And as they did Tuesday against Lowell, the Navs split their twin bill with the Holyoke Blue Sox on Wednesday.

In the first game, North Shore recorded a 1-0 victory behind six shutout innings from starter Wayde Kitchens. The Navs (25-15) took a 1-0 lead once again in the nightcap, but two Holyoke runs proved to be decisive, as the Blue Sox (19-22) came away with a 2-1 win.

Because one of the games to be made up in the doubleheader was supposed to be played at Fraser Field, the Navs were the “home” team for game one, and so Kitchens took the hill in the top of the first. He worked out of a two-on, two-out jam by getting Ken Gregory to pop out to third.

That would prove to be a theme throughout Kitchens’ outing. Though he put a runner on base in each inning – he yielded four hits and four walks - none of those runners crossed home. Kitchens struck out seven over his six innings. After the game, Kitchens said that working in a close game keeps him focused.

“It helps me. When we score more runs, I allow more things to happen on the mound. But When I know it’s a 0-0 game, I know I need to bear down and try not to give up any runs.”

North Shore picked up the game’s lone run in the bottom of the sixth. Josh Garton drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the inning, and was then pinch-run for by Jesse Bruinsma. After a bunt single from Matt Costello and a sacrifice by Tyler Kuehl put Bruinsma at third with one out, John Hill flied to center – deep enough for Bruinsma to score without a throw.

With the lead in hand, Chris Prescott pitched the seventh to pick up his ninth save of the season. In 17 innings of relief, the North Shore closer has allowed just one earned run.

Though they finished off the victory, the Navs picked up just two hits in the game – both bunt singles. After playing at least fifty games before the NECBL season started, some players might be feeling the effects of the long season.

“We’re in the tail end of our season, it’s definitely a grind,” pitcher Adam Herter said. “But we’ve got the playoffs coming up and we’re excited about that. Hopefully we keep winning and see what happens.”

Herter got the ball for game two, and started his outing strong. He picked off a runner at second base in each of the first two innings. He got a lead to work with in the top of the fourth, as a Sean McNaughton double to left-center brought home Chad Zurcher.

In the bottom of the inning, after Holyoke loaded the bases with nobody out, Herter got Craig Turner to chop a ball directly in front of home plate. The ball bounced back to North ShoreHolyoke’s Alex Hilliard followed with a single to right that put the Blue Sox ahead for good, 2-1. catcher Frank Pesanello, who stepped on the plate and threw on to first for a run-saving double play. But

The Navs had opportunities to take the lead back in the late innings, but Holyoke’s Jeremy Nowak struck out three of the four batters he faced to finish the game.

“We made some stupid swings on some bad pitch selections, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” head coach Jason Falcon said. “We have just got to keep swinging and hopefully our defense and pitching will continue for us.”

Bruinsma knows that the team must fight through any lingering fatigue as the playoffs draw closer.

“Everyone is getting kind of tired, but we’re trying to not let it bother us. We’re not going to make excuses and say that we’re not hitting the ball,” he said. “We’ve probably played tend games in the past eight days, with a hotel night last week and a hotel night tonight. We’re just going to come out tomorrow and do the best we can.”

Tomorrow, the Navs have a split doubleheader in Holyoke. The first game will be a makeup against the Torrington Twisters, with the Navs then taking on the Blue Sox in the regularly-scheduled nightcap.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Navs Split Double-Header With Holyoke

The Navs split today's games, winning the first one 1-0 after John Hill knocked in Jesse Bruinsma with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning (North Shore was the home team in game 1). In the second game, Adam Herter allowed two runs in six innings of more run then the Navs were able to produce. The Navs run came on a Sean McNaughton double that reached the top of the wall in a very, very deep left-centerfield.

Check back later tonight / early Thursday morning for Zander's game story.

Holyoke & Post-Season Pitching Rotation

Talking with Coach Falcon after yesterday's double-header, he gave the pitching rotation for the remainder of the regular season (four games in Holyoke today and tomorrow) and the first round of the playoffs. Here is a list of hurlers Falcon will be sending to the hill:

- Game 1: Wayde Kitchens (1-1, 1.51 ERA)
- Game 2: Adam Herter (5-1, 2.68 ERA)

This will give each starter five to six days rest, respectfully, so that "they will be well rested if called upon to start" in the second round of the playoffs, Falcon said.

- Game 1: Mike DiCato (2-3, 6.00 ERA)
- Game 2: TBD [This could be comical. Falcon explained the situation this way..."Could be you, could be you (pointing to reporters), could be me. Everyone should just bring their glove that day, because we just don't know yet for sure what we are going to do."]


Round 1
- Game 1 (8/2): Matt Costello (2-0, 1.80 ERA)
- Game 2 (8/3): John Folino (3-0, 0.45 ERA)
- Game 3 (8/4, if necessary): Jimmy Lisowski* (2-1, 2.33 ERA)

*If the Navigators were to advance to the second round by sweeping the first two games of Round 1, then Lisowski would indeed get the start in Game 1 of the second round, Falcon said.

After Lisowski, it would then go back to Kitchens, and the rotation would revert back to where we stand today.

So, now that we have a picture of who will be on the mound in the upcoming days, how do you see this affecting the Navigators' chances of conquering home field advantage and succeeding in the first round of the playoffs?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

North Shore and Lowell Split Double Header at Fraser

Steve DelVecchio, Navigators Sports Information Department

The North Shore Navigators (24-14) and Lowell All-Americans (15-24) split a double-header on Tuesday afternoon and evening at Fraser Field. The Navigators moved one step closer to clinching home-field advantage for the playoffs by salvaging the later game of the double header.

In the first of two games at Fraser, the All-Americans defeated the Navs by a score of 5-3, playing spoiler in that they are far from the playoff picture.

On the bump for the Navigators to begin the afternoon was Mike Gallo (2-3), who was making his fourth start of the year. Gallo was shaky to begin the afternoon, walking the leadoff hitter in Steve Daniels and committing a throwing error to allow Lowell third baseman Nick Pecora to reach base. Gallo got himself into further trouble with a wild pitch, allowing Daniels and Pecora to get into scoring position and be driven in on a two-RBI single by Lowell first baseman Tony Plagman.

Gallo exited the game in the sixth inning after pitching 5.1 innings and allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 4 walks. He struck out 3 batters on the day.

“[It was my] first start in a long time, so I was just trying to get back in rhythm,” Gallo said. “I just didn’t have my stuff today. My location was a little off. I left two two-strike pitches up in the zone and that is how they got their runs. I wasn’t getting the outs that I needed and they were getting the timely hits that they needed. And that’s baseball.”

Getting the start for Lowell and making his fifth appearance of the season was right hander Bryan Leigh (2-0), who was extremely sharp early on, retiring the first ten Navigators he faced and not allowing a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning. Leigh pitched a complete game (7 innings because of the double header), and allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk. He did not strike out any batters.

The Navigators were able to manufacture a run in each the fifth and sixth innings, but would need more than that to pull off a victory. North Shore shortstop Nick Belcher singled in the bottom of the fifth and was driven in on a double to left field by catcher Frank Pesanello. Navs center fielder Justin Little reached base on an error in the bottom of the sixth and was knocked on Mike Provencher’s single to center field. That was all the offense North Shore could muster up on a day in which Bryan Leigh was extremely effective on the mound for Lowell.

In the night cap of the double-header, the Navigators were able to ride outstanding pitching through 7 innings (the entire game), and pick up their 24th win of the season by a score of 1-0. In order to have home-field advantage for the first round of the NECBL Playoffs, the Navs will need to get to 26 wins.

Getting the start for North Shore in Game 2 was right-hander Mike Adams (0-2), who made his fourth start of the season. Adams was dealing through the first four innings before he ran into a little bit of trouble in the top of the fifth and was relieved by Jason Markovitz. He has also been rehabbing from an injury, which could have a lot to do with his not going deep into the game. Adams finished the game allowing no earned runs over 4.2 innings, walking 2 and striking out 3.

“I actually felt pretty good,” Adams said. “I was surprised at how good I felt. I haven’t thrown in about a month and a half, that many innings at least. It was a big confidence boost being able to come in here and get those guys out.”

North Shore’s bats were noticeably quiet throughout both games of the double header. The only run of the second game came in the bottom of the third inning when Navs third baseman Kyle Geason reached base after being hit by a pitch. He later ended up on third after an error by Lowell pitcher Joey Lucier and a single by Navs right fielder Josh Garton. North Shore left fielder Sean McNaughton was able to push Geason across the plate on a sacrifice fly, making him the only runner in the game to score. Coach Jason Falcon is not concerned about the lack of offense.

“I’m not too concerned about it. Everyone goes through funks,” Falcon said. “We have gone up and down all year. We had fifteen hits three games ago. I think sometimes these guys forget where they are at and what they are trying to accomplish. For a lot of these guys, it has been a really long year. For a lot of these guys, this is probably game one-hundred of their season.”

The pitching was the story yet again tonight for the Navigators. After over four innings of solid work from Mike Adams, Jason Markovitz entered from the bullpen to shut the door on Lowell. Markovitz came on in the fifth inning and retired the only batter he faced to avoid any potential damage. He then struck out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings, allowing only one hit and capping what was another outstanding performance by Navs pitching.

“We didn’t know what to expect from Mike [Adams], he hasn’t been out in a while,” Coach Falcon said. “I did expect that from Markowitz. I am a little bit spoiled because he pitches like that every day. That is why he is an All-Star. Mike came in and did exactly what we needed. He came in and gave us a chance to win the game, and that is exactly what they both did.”

The Navigators have yet another double-header tomorrow. They’ll take on the Holyoke Blue Sox in Holyoke, MA. Game 1 will be at 3 and Game 2 will begin at approximately 6:30.

LIVE - Navs vs. Lowell, Game 2 - 7 INNING GAME

LOW 0 0 0 / 0 0 0 / 0 - 0 5 1
NSR 0 0 1 / 0 0 0 / - 1 2 1

8:12 PM: WHIFF! Navs win! Navs win!

8:12 PM: Full count...

8:11 PM: McKenna is the last hope here for Lowell.

8:10 PM: Markovitz whiffs Daniels - two down!

8:08 PM: One out. Daniels is up w/ the bases empty.

8:04 PM: We go to the 7th! Markovitz is still out there to try to finish this one off.

7:57 PM: Lowell puts on the leadoff man, but Markovitz Ks the next three consecutively to end the inning.

7:47 PM: It turns out to be another quick inning - 1-0 Navs thru 5.

7:44 PM: Hill singles to start the inning, and is lifted for pinch runner Mike Provencher.

7:41 PM: One pitch, one out for Markovitz! The inning ends, and after seemingly fifteen minute at the ballpark, the Navs are six outs away from a big victory in their home finale.

7;39 PM: Adams departs after a solid outing. Jason Markovitz comes in out of the 'pen to take on Kevin Rivers.

7:39 PM: Pecora hits a rocket to left but Bruinsma gets a nice jump to track it down. 2 out.

7:36 PM: Lowell puts two on again with one out - let's see if Adams can do another escape act. Nicholas Pecora now bats for Lowell.

7:27 PM: The Navs once again go quietly. It's not been a good offensive day for the team so far - let's hope the pitchers can continue to pick them up.

7:21 PM: And Adams fans Rouches to end the inning. Nice work!

7:20 PM: Adams picks up a big K for the 2nd out. Rouches is up now.

7:18 PM: Lowell puts two on with one out for old friend Dan Coury.

7:14 PM: Bruinsma is picked off of second base to end the inning.

7:13 PM: Navs load the bases, and McNaughton brings home Geason with a deep sac fly to left. 1-0 Navs

7:11 PM: Geason gets hit by a pitch, then Bruinsma drops a bunt and reaches base when the pitcher can't field it cleanly. Two on, one out.

7:07 PM: Lowell puts two on but does not score, and through 2 1/2, we remain tied, 0-0.

7:03 PM: Lowell gets a two-out baserunner as a tough hop hits Belcher right at the bottom of his face. They called it an E6, but it was a tough hop - I think it should be changed to a hit. Belcher was shaken up for a few minutes, but he's up and playing now.

6:57 PM: Cruising right along - scoreless thrtough two.

6:45 PM: Joey Lucier sets the Navs down in the first - we're scoreless.

6:40 PM: Jesse Bruinsma leads it off for the Navs.

6:37 PM: A good first inning for Adams. Lowell 0, Navs coming to bat.

6:33 PM: Navs starter Mike Adams retires Daniels for the first out.

6:32 PM: Joe, Zander & I just returned from a roundtable discussion on LYNNCAM - I hope you enjoyed it! We're getting set for baseball here in game two as Steve Daniels steps in for Lowell.

Navs Drop Game One of Double-Header, 5-2

Steve DelVecchio, Navs Sports Information Department

The North Shore Navigators (23-14) came up on the losing side of game one of yet another double header Monday afternoon at Fraser Field. The Lowell All-Americans (15-23) defeated the Navs by a score of 5-2, playing the role of spoiler on a day in which North Shore was trying to inch closer to clinching home-field advantage for the playoffs.

On the bump for the Navigators to begin the afternoon was Mike Gallo (2-3), who was making his eighth start of the year. Gallo was shaky to begin the afternoon, walking the leadoff hitter in Steve Daniels and committing a throwing error to allow Lowell third baseman Nick Pecora to reach base. Gallo got himself into further trouble with a wild pitch, allowing Daniels and Pecora to get into scoring position and be driven in on a two-RBI single by Lowell first baseman Tony Plagman.

Gallo exited the game in the sixth inning after pitching 5.1 innings and allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 4 walks. He struck out 3 batters on the day.

Getting the start for Lowell and making his fifth appearance of the season was right hander Bryan Leigh (2-0), who was extremely sharp early on, retiring the first ten Navigators he faced and not allowing a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning. Leigh pitched a complete game (7 innings because of the double header), and allowed 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk. He did not strike out any batters.

The Navigators were able to manufacture a run in each the fifth and sixth innings, but would need more than that to pull off a victory. North Shore shortstop Nick Belcher singled in the bottom of the fifth and was driven in on a double to left field by catcher Frank Pesanello. Navs center fielder Justin Little reached base on an error in the bottom of the sixth and was knocked on Mike Provencher’s single to center field. That was all the offense North Shore could muster up on a day in which Bryan Leigh was extremely effective on the mound for Lowell.

The second game of the double-header will be beginning shortly. Mike Adams will get the start for North Shore as they look to come away with the split against the Lowell All-Americans. Check back later for a full recap of both of the day’s games.

LIVE UPDATES - Navs vs. Lowell, 7/29/08 GAME 1 - SEVEN INNING GAME

5:44 PM: Game over - Lowell wins 5-2. Check out me, Joe, and Zander on LYNNCAM between games, talking Navs baseball.

5:39 PM: Krull gets 3 Ks in the inning - it's 5-2 as we go to the bottom of the 7th.

5:34 PM: Plagman launches a homer to right to make it 5-2 Lowell. uh oh

5:29 PM: Kuehl grounds out to end the inning. On to the 7th and final inning of play...

5:28 PM: Provencher is caught stealing... gah. 2 outs.

5:26 PM: Provencher brings him home with a base hit up the middle, and the Navs have serious life now. Here's Kuehl with a runner on first and one out.

5:25 PM: Little reaches on an error by the shortstop with one out.... in Vermont, it's Mountaineers 6, Mainers 3 in the 4th.

5:21 PM: Krull keeps it 4-1 after 5 1/2. The Navs have 6 outs to produce 3 runs.

5:12 PM: Gallo departs with a runner on first and one out in the sixth. Certainly not his best outing of the season, but he does have his team in the game. Ryan Krull is now in.

5:06 PM: Pesanello's RBI double closes the gap to 4-1.

5:02 PM: Belcher picks up the first Navs base hit.

4:58 PM: Still down 4-0 in the bottom of the 5th. Lowell's pitcher, Bryan Leigh, still has a no hitter going and is nine outs away from finishing it off.

4:49 PM: Through two, Vermont still leads Sanford, 5-2.

4:42 PM: Navs go down in order in the third.

4:38 PM: Lowell goes down in order in the top of the 3rd. In game one of doubleheader action, Sanford trails Vermont 5-0 in the 2nd inning.

4:23 PM - Rivers grounds out to Belcher at short, 6-3. 4-0 Lowell after 1 1/2 innings.

4:22 PM - Nicholas Pecora knocks a single into centerfield, scoring two more for Lowell. 4-0 Lowell with runners on first and second. Right-fielder Kevin Rivers at bat.

4:21 PM - Gallo walks Lowell short stop Pat McKenna to load the bases.

4:18 PM - Sorry for the delay folks, it's not looking too good here in Game 1 of today's double-header against the Lowell All-Americans. It's 2-0 here in the top of the second. Navigators starting pitcher Mike Gallo allowed two unearned runs in the top of the first inning, and Lowell has runners on second and third base with two outs here in the top half of the second inning...

Playoff Picture: 7-29


Torrington 1, Pittsfield 0
Keene 11, Pittsfield 2
Sanford 10, Holyoke 4
Sanford 6, Holyoke 3
Vermont 5, North Shore 0
Newport 9, Lowell 2
Newport 6, Manchester 3

Playoff Picture (to be updated daily)

Team - # of wins - Max # of wins - [Places they can finish] -e#=elimination number


SAN - 27 - 30 [1-2]
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=27--
NSR - 23 - 29 [1-4]
--Clinch in: Wins=23--
KEE - 22 - 26 [2-5]
VER - 20 - 25 [2-5]
HOL - 18 - 22 [3-6] e#=4
--Clinch out: max wins #=19--
LOW - 14 - 19 [4-6] e#=OUT

--Clinch 1st: Wins=30--

Sanford clinched home-field with their wins over Holyoke; Holyoke's two losses also ensured the Navs of a playoff berth. Lowell was eliminated by virtue of their loss to Newport.


NEW - 24 - 26 [1-2]
PIT - 22 - 27 [1-2]
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=22--
--Clinch in: Wins=20--
NA - 18 - 21 [3-5]
MAN - 15 - 19 [3-5]
TOR - 13 - 19 [3-6] e#=5
--Clinch out: Max wins=15--
DAN - 11 - 14 [5-6] e#=OUT

--Clinch 1st: wins=27--

Not much changed, outside of Newport taking over first place for the time being with wins over Lowell and Manchester.

Navs fall to Vermont, but clinch playoff spot

Zander Kean, Navigators Sports Information Department

On Monday afternoon, the North Shore Navigators rode up to Montpelier, Vermont looking for a decisive win over the Mountaineers to vault them into the postseason. A win combined with a Holyoke loss would officially clinch a Navigator playoff spot, allowing the team to turn its attention to securing home-field advantage for at least the first round.

And as the Navigators and Mountaineers finished up infield practice, the first game of Holyoke’s doubleheader went final, with the Sanford Mainers coming out on top. The Navs could secure their postseason future with a victory. But Vermont’s Eric Smith had other ideas. Smith bested the Navigator lineup over six shutout innings, helping his team hand North Shore a 5-0 loss.

Smith started out strong in the first, striking out the side against the Navs’ potent top of the order. The Navs (23-13) found ways to put runners on base over the next several innings, but Smith stranded runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings.

On the hill for the Navs, Jimmy Lisowski did his best to match Smith’s performance. With the help of a pickoff in the second inning and a caught stealing by catcher John Hill in the fourth, Lisowski surrendered just one run over his first four innings.

“Early on in the game I felt good, I was mixing up my pitches well and hitting spots,” he said. “When I made mistakes they made me pay, I missed some spots and left some balls up. They were hitting my changeup pretty good, I probably should have stayed away from that a little bit more.”

Those missed spots caught up to him in the bottom of the fifth, though his outfielders nearly allowed him to escape unscathed. The first two outs of the inning were recorded on a pair of highlight-reel catches – a diving grab in the left-centerfield gap by Sean McNaughton followed by a leaping snag by Justin Little on a tailing line drive to center.

But then, Vermont’s Jonathan Roof, Nick Panzarella and Nick Harris came up with consecutive hits, the last a two-run double that put the Mountaineers (20-17) ahead, 4-0.

Lisowski then got out of the inning and battled his way through two more innings of work. Though he certainly gave up more runs than he would have liked, he gave the Navs’ bullpen a needed break. Beginning Tuesday, the Navs will play six games in three days; a stretch that will test the limits of the team’s pitching staff.

“This one of those games where I didn’t want to waste another pitcher,” head coach Jason Falcon said. “Jimmy was doing his job. We weren’t going to score many runs, and I wasn’t going to send another guy out there. If we had got some runs then who knows, but Jimmy did an outstanding job of keeping us in the game.”

The Navs did have their chances to get back in the game, but a few chance bounces kept them off the scoreboard. In the fourth inning with a runner on third, Hill drove a sharp grounder off Smith’s glove – but it bounced straight to Roof who made a timely throw to first. And with two men on in the seventh, Chad Zurcher ripped a ball down the line in left that would have cut the deficit in half – but it fell just a few feet foul.

Falcon is confident that although his players might be feeling the effects of a long season, his lineup will be poised to come through in the playoffs.

“I thought we were in a pretty good rhythm coming into today, but we got shut down. I think our hitters are going to be fine; we’re just getting to the end of the year here a little bit. But we’ve got six games in three days here so they’ve got to get it going, and I think they will.”

And though it didn’t happen the way they had hoped for, the Navs arrived back in Lynn with a playoff spot in hand, as Sanford defeated Holyoke in the second game of their doubleheader. But just because the team is guaranteed a playoff spot does not mean their regular season work is complete.

For one thing, the Navs still have a shot at the number one overall seed in the Northern Division. And the Navs would still love to have home field advantage over the Keene Swamp Bats in the first round. Keene’s Alumni Field has a remarkably short fence in center and right-center, and the Swamp Bats have benefited from that dynamic against the Navigators, taking all three of the teams’ meetings there.

“We don’t really want to go play Keene up there twice if we can avoid it,” Falcon said. “We’ve still got a lot to play for here, as far as I know none of the playoffs have been set. So obviously we’d like to chase first if we can, and we’d like to keep Keene behind us if at all possible.”

Tomorrow, the Navs can make strides toward those goals as they host a doubleheader against the Lowell All-Americans. Mike Gallo will get the start for North Shore in game one, with Mike Adams working the nightcap.

Monday, July 28, 2008

LIVE: Navs @ Vermont, 7/28

North Shore Navigators (23-12, 2nd place) @ Vermont Mountaineers (19-17, 4th place)

It's a rare (for the last few weeks, anyway) beautiful evening up here in Montpelier as the Navs get ready to finish up their season series against the Mountaineers. So far, the Navs have taken 4 of 5 of the teams' meetings - including both up here in the Green Mountain State. The biggest potential development here tonight is that if the Navs head back to Mass with a win - and Holyoke loses at least one game of their doubleheader against Sanford - they'll clinch a playoff spot.

*** I'm told that as of ~6:00 PM, Sanford was leading Holyoke 8-2 in Game 1. If that score holds, then a Navs victory seals a postseason berth.

Pitching Matchup

NS: #34 Jimmy Lisowski (2-0, 1.42 ERA, 31.2 IP, 21 K, 12 BB)
VT: #18 Eric Smith (2-2, 4.72 ERA, 34.1 IP, 29 K, 14 BB)

Starting Lineups

Little CF / Roof SS
Zurcher SS / Panzarella LF
McNaughton LF / Harris CF
Provencher RF / Felix RF
Kuehl 2B / Mercer DH
Belcher 3B / Sherry 2B
Costello DH / Paquette 1B
Graham 1B / Ogrinc C
Hill C / Duffy 3B

Live Updates

9:20 PM: Just got word that Sanford has beaten Holyoke in the second game of their doubleheader, which officially puts the Navs in the playoffs. Not the way they would have liked to clinch, to be sure, but that's one thing that's off their minds heading into this six-game-in-three-day stretch.

9:13 PM: And that's the game as Zurcher flies to right. I'll try to get an update on the Sanford/Holyoke score after going down to the field for interviews.

9:08 PM: Little lines a single to left, loading the bases. Vermont's manager isn't messing around, as he's come out to replace Balsinde with the Mountaineer closer, Dusty Odenbach.

9:05 PM: A little bit of life here with two outs. Garton worked a pinch hit walk and Hill ripped a single to right. Little is up looking to extend the game.

8:56 PM: With the help of another runner hosed at second by Hill, Kowalski works a smooth inning. The Navs' have one more shot here in the ninth against Vermont reliever AJ Balsinde.

8:52 PM: Harman sets the middle of the Navs' lineup down in order, it just doesn't seem to be their night. Kowalski is out to pitch the bottom of the eighth, ending Lisowski's outing. Even though the result of his outing wasn't what he would have hoped, with the doubleheaders coming up his 7 innings of work will prove valuable.

8:41 PM: A soft liner from Ogrinc and a bunt single from Roof put runners on the corners with one out. Lisowski got Panzarella to fly to right, but it was deep enough for Ogrinc to beat Provencher's throw home. Vermont 5, Navs 0

8:31 PM: Zurcher ripped a ball down the left field line that fell about three feet foul with two on and two out, but a couple pitches later Harman got him to ground to short, ending the inning. Lisowski is back out for the seventh with no action in the pen, with three doubleheaders in a row coming up coach Falcon is looking to get as much out of his starter as he can.

8:20 PM: Costello leads off the seventh with a hard-hit single to right. That's going to be all for Smith, as Casey Harman is on in relief for Vermont. Harman started the all-star game for the North and has a 0.49 ERA in six starts, but is now working out of the pen.

8:15 PM: Lisowski bounces back to set down Vermont 1-2-3, with two groundouts to Belcher and a strikeout.

8:11 PM: The Navs go down in order again. There's some action in the Vermont bullpen, a new pitcher might be just what they need to get some offense going.

8:05 PM: A pair of great catches from McNaughton and Little got the first two outs of the inning, but with a runner on first, consecutive hits from Roof (single), Panzarella (RBI single) and Harris (2-run double) sent three Vermont runs home. Vermont 4, Navs 0

7:49 PM: Smith sets down the top of the Navigator order in the top of the fifth.

7:45 PM: Two, Navigator style! Lisowski hit Felix to open the inning, but got Mercer to pop to center for the first out. Then he picked a grounder off the bat of Sherry, turned and made a strong throw to Zurcher covering second, who in turn tossed it to Graham for the double play.

7:39 PM: Kuehl led off the inning with a walk, and Graham drew a walk of his own three batters later, putting runners on the corners with two away. Hill hit a sharp grounder off Smith's glove, but it bounced right to Roof, who made the play at first to end the Navigator threat.

7:26 PM: With runners on first and third (again), the Navs prevented any further damage. First, Lisowski struck out Harris looking, then Hill threw out Panzarella as he tried to steal second for the third out.

7:21 PM: With runners on first and third and one out, Lisowski had Roof picked off of first base. But as Roof ran toward second, Ogrinc broke for home. Zurcher's throw pulled Hill off the plate, allowing Ogrinc to score the game's first run. Vermont 1, Navs 0

7:11 PM: Hill led off the third with a line-drive single to center, and McNaughton moved him to second with a two-out single of his own. But Smith got Provencher to pop to first, keeping the Navs off the scoreboard.

7:02 PM: Mercer beat out a dribbler to third to open the bottom of the second, but Lisowski quickly picked him off and set down the next two Vermont hitters in order - Sherry on a soft liner to Graham and Paquette with a swinging strikeout. Still scoreless through 2.

6:55 PM: Graham chops one right back to Smith to end the inning.

6:53 PM: With Kuehl on second, Costello beats out an infield single to extend the inning. Two on, two out with Graham at the plate...

6:44 PM: Lisowski retired the first two Mountaineers he faced, but then gave up a double to Harris. No harm done, though, as he got Felix to pop out to Zurcher on the first pitch to retire the side.

6:38 PM: Little, Zurcher and McNaughton all down on strikes in the top of the first. Based on a couple of the pitches to McNaughton, the home plate umpire's going to have a pretty generous zone tonight.

6:32 PM: Vermont's taken the field, the national anthem's been sung and Justin Little is taking cuts in the on-deck circle. Play ball!

6:23 PM: The Sanford-Holyoke score has gone final, with the Mainers winning 10-4. So the Navs control their own destiny tonight - win and they're in!

6:19 PM: Lisowski and Smith are taking their warmup tosses with their respective catchers. Right now, Lisowski is working out of the stretch with Hill standing behind the bullpen plate.

6:08 PM: Both teams have taken infield and the grounds crew is finishing their last-minute preparations. The left field line is painted, with the right field line and the batter's boxes soon to follow.

Updated playoff picture, July 28

Last Night:

Sanford 6, Keene 5
Sanford 9, Keene 4
North Adams 14, Danbury 4
North Adams 2, Danbury 0
Vermont 7, Pittsfield 5

Playoff Picture (to be updated daily)

Team - # of wins - Max # of wins - [Places they can finish] -e#=elimination number


SAN - 25 - 30 [1-4]
--Clinch in: Wins=25--
NSR - 23 - 30 [1-5]
KEE - 21 - 26 [1-5]
VER - 19 - 25 [2-6]
HOL - 18 - 24 [2-6] e#=6
LOW - 14 - 20 [4-6] e#=1

--Clinch out: max wins #=19--
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=27--
--Clinch 1st: Wins=31--

With Sanford's sweep over Keene, the Mainers become the first team in the North Division to clinch a playoff spot. The two losses by Keene mean that the "magic win #" needed to lock up home field in the first round is 27, and Sanford is two wins from reaching that mark. Sanford's wins also eliminated Vermont and Holyoke from contention for first place.

At the other end of the table, Lowell is now one loss away from being the first team eliminated from playoff contention.


PIT - 22 - 29 [1-2]
NEW - 22 - 26 [1-2]
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=22----
Clinch in: Wins=22--
NA - 18 - 21 [3-5]
MAN - 15 - 20 [3-5]
TOR - 12 - 19 [3-6] e#=5
--Clinch out: Max wins=15--
DAN - 11 - 14 [5-6] e#=OUT

--Clinch 1st: wins=27--

North Adams' sweep over Danbury knocked the Westerners out of playoff contention (surprise, surprise). Pittsfield and Newport locked up home field advantage last week; it's still to be determined who will be the #1 overall seed. Pittsfield's magic # for 1st place is 5.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In a rare, stunning turn of events, rain has forced the postponement of tonight's game between the North Shore Navigators and the Holyoke Blue Sox. We will post makeup information as soon as we get it.

The Navs travel to Vermont tomorrow night to take on the Mountaineers at 6:30 PM.

NEWS FLASH...It's raining.

Well, it appears as if tonight's game will not begin at 7 p.m. as it was originally scheduled. The tarp is still on the field here, and the only action seen thusfar was an inspirational sliding display by Mike Gallo, Mike DiCato, Jason Markowitz, Chris Kowalski and Jesse Bruinsma. We even got a chance to see who would best take center for the Navigators football team when DiCato brought out a rubber football.

Still raining in Lynn...we'll keep you posted on weather improvements...hopefully.

Magic numbers

Somehow, without noticing it, it snuck up on me: it's the last week of the season. Tonight is our penultimate home date of the regular season, and Tuesday night's doubleheader is Fraser's regular season finale. Thus, seven days before the start of the playoffs, it's time to contemplate the complex and very entertaining North Division pennant race.

Here are the standings:
North Shore 23-12
Sanford 23-12
Keene 21-14, 2 GB
Vermont 18-17, 5 GB
Holyoke 18-18, 5.5 GB
Lowell 14-22, 9.5 GB

Making the playoffs

The magic number for the Navs to stay ahead of 5th place Holyoke, and thus clinch a spot in the postseason, is 2 - so a win over the Sox tonight means that the Navigators are in the playoffs. Or, if Holyoke goes on a big run and solidifies their playoff berth, the magic number to finish ahead of Vermont is also 2 (since North Shore has won the season series against the Mountaineers).

So the formula here is simple: One win in three tries against Holyoke, or two wins overall, and the Navs are in the playoffs, no matter what anyone else does.

First place

Because the Navs hold the tiebreaker over Sanford, they "only" have to win all seven remaining games to clinch first place.

Let's take a look at the schedule breakdown:
vs. Holyoke / vs. Keene
@ Vermont / vs. Keene
vs. Lowell / vs. Holyoke
vs. Lowell / vs. Holyoke
@ Holyoke / @ Vermont
Torrington* / @ Vermont
@ Holyoke / @ Lowell
*in Holyoke

Although Sanford has one more home game, their path is a bit tougher, playing three doubleheaders, all against teams in the North Division playoff hunt.

After Sanford and Keene complete their doubleheader tonight, we'll have a lot clearer picture at the top of the North standings.

Home Field

The #1 concern for many Navigators fans is having to play 2 of 3 in Keene in the playoffs. Keene has been the toughest place to play for North Shore this year, as they have lost all three games there. With the Navs holding a two-game cushion over the Swamp Bats, the magic number to stay ahead of them (and at least ensure home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs) is 6.

The last playoff spot

Not only are Vermont and Holyoke just 1/2 game apart from one another in the standings, their season series is tied 3-3. If the two teams are tied at the end of the season, they will play a one-game playoff, with the site being determined by coin toss.

Tiebreaker rules

In case any of these teams end up tied (very likely):

(A) The NECBL shall use the following tie-breaker rule for teams eligible for the playoffs that end the regular season with identical win-loss records, with the exception of the final playoff spot (see below):
a. FIRST- Head-to-Head record between teams tied.
b. SECOND- Combined Head-to-Head record with First teams.
c. THIRD – Combined Head-to-Head record with Second place teams.
d. FOURTH – Combined Head-to-Head record with third place teams (etc., until a winner can be decided)
e. FIFTH – In the event all of the foregoing fails to break the tie, it shall be broken by a coin toss.
(B) In the event of a tie for the last and final playoff spot, the position shall be decided by a one game playoff with the home field to be decided by a coin toss.

Playoff Picture (to be updated daily)

Team - # of wins - Max # of wins - [Places they can finish] -e#=elimination number

NSR - 23 - 30 [1-5]
SAN - 23 - 30 [1-5]
KEE - 21 - 28 [1-5]
VER - 18 - 25 [1-6] e#=8
HOL - 18 - 24 [1-6] e#=7
LOW - 14 - 20 [4-6] e#=2

--Clinch in: Wins=25--
--Clinch out: max wins #=18--
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=29--
--Clinch 1st: Wins=31--

PIT - 22 - 30 [1-2]
NEW - 22 - 26 [1-2]
--Clinch home field [1st or 2nd]: Wins=22--
--Clinch in: Wins=22--
NA - 16 - 21 [3-6] e#=7
MAN - 15 - 20 [3-6] e#=6
TOR - 12 - 19 [3-6] e#=5
DAN - 11 - 16 [3-6] e#=1

--Clinch 1st: wins=31--
--Clinch out: Max wins=15--

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Folino deals, Navs handle Vermont 8-0

Joe Jasinski, Navigators Sports Information Department

The Navigators were “one swing away,” Head Coach Jason Falcon said, of winning this morning’s match-up against the Keene Swamp Bats. Instead, they dropped the first of two games on today’s agenda, 6-5. Coming back to Lynn to play the Vermont Mountaineers, the Navigators needed an inspiration to get back in rhythm.

It is safe to say that John Folino provided that inspiration.

Folino pitched a magnificent seven innings, allowing only two hits and striking out seven Vermont hitters. He retired the last fourteen batters he faced in succession.

Behind Folino and a three-run home run by Nick Belcher in the first inning, the Navigators soundly dismantled the Vermont Mountaineers 8-0, bringing North Shore even with Sanford in the divisional standings (discounting Sanford’s result tonight).

It was Folino’s ability to locate the strike zone early in the count that allowed him to be so effective, Head Coach Jason Falcon said.

“Strike one, Falcon said. “That’s the basics of the game. The compliment I got from him came from the third baseman, who said that he threw everything where you need to and he didn’t throw anything that was hittable.”

Falcon made several changes in the lineup as well. Chad Zurcher was placed second in the lineup, Sean McNaughton was placed third and Mike Provencher batted behind McNaughton in the clean-up spot.

“Every now and then it’s good to mix up the lineup and have guys see some different pitches,” Falcon said. “I think that Chad Zurcher is one example of a guy who’s really starting to see the ball well.”

A three-run, two-out first inning rally gave the Navs an early lead.

After Vermont starting pitcher Eric Katzman (Michigan) struck out Justin Little and Chad Zurcher, Sean McNaughton laced a double down the third base line to continue the inning. Mike Provencher walked on four pitches to place runners on first and second base. Belcher then connected on a fastball, launching his first home run of the season over the left-center field fence.

A five-hit, four-run third inning widened the North Shore lead.

With one out, the Navigators collected four straight singles, culminating in a two-run single to shallow left field by Tyler Kuehl.

“I just wanted to get some hits because I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Kuehl said. “I didn’t have my hardest hits ever but they fell in, and they all count."

Kuehl’s single brought his season-RBI total to 25, second-best on the Navigators behind McNaughton (30).

Kent Graham then brought home Belcher on a deep sacrifice fly. Frank Pasanello’s RBI-double that scored Kuehl concluded the rally, and gave North Shore a 7-0 lead.

RJ Preach (Arizona St.) came in to relieve Katzman at the start of the sixth inning, but was unable to survive his first inning unharmed. After leading off the inning with a single, Justin Little trotted home after McNaughton cracked a sacrifice fly to centerfield.

It was Preach’s only inning of work, as he was then relieved by AJ Balsinde to begin the seventh.

Ryan Krull and Chris Prescott combined to work two innings of scoreless baseball. Krull allowed one hit in the eighth inning.

With one out in the top of the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Ethan Paquette hit a ball to left-center field for what appeared to be a single. Giving chase was Little, who made a diving catch to his right for the second out of the inning.

McNaughton’s double in the first inning was his thirteenth of the season, putting him in second place behind Matt Adams of Pittsfield for most in the NECBL.

LIVE: Navs vs. Vermont

North Shore Navigators vs. Vermont Mountaineers, 6:05 PM, Fraser Field

VT 0 0 0 / 0 0 0 / 0 0 0 - 0 3 1
NS 3 0 4 / 0 0 1 / 0 0 - 8 15 0

8:30 PM: NAVS WIN! 8-0

8:25 PM: Prescott pitching here in the 9th with 2 outs.

7:58 PM: Folino leaves the game after going seven shutout innings, giving up 2 hits, striking out 7, and walking 1. He retired the last 14 men in a row. In to pitch: Krull

7:53 PM: Belcher smacks a leadoff double, then is lifted for pinch-runner McCrann.

7:50 PM: Folino sends them down in order yet again - make that 14 straight retired.

7:40 PM: McNaughton sac fly scores Little - 8-0 Navs.

7:34 PM: Another 1-2-3 inning. Folino has retired 11 in a row.

7:28 PM: Navs put two on, but Geason flies out to end the fifth.

7:20 PM: Folino continues to cruise - another 1-2-3 inning.

7:06 PM: 1-2-3 go the Mountain Men in the 4th.

7:00 PM: The inning ends, not before four big runs for North Shore. Big match race here bweteen Chomps the Gator and "The Professor." It looks like Chomps is finally going to win a race....... and he does!

6:59 PM: Pesanello swats it to deep center for an RBI double.

6:57 PM: The already-taxed Vermont 'pen may be forced to go to the well early. Good news for the Navs.

6:56 PM: Graham adds to the lead with a deep sac fly, scoring Belcher.

6:56 PM: Kuehl flares it into shallow left for a 2-rbi single. He advances to 2nd on the throw to the plate.

6:52 PM: McNaughton, Provencher, and Belcher pick up back-to-back-to-back 1-out singles to load 'em up for Kuehl.

6:34 PM: Geason leads it off with a perfect bunt single.

6:30 PM: Navs spin a 4-6-3 double play to end the top of the 2nd, still 3-0 good guys.

6:20 PM: THE POWER-HITTING NAVS STRIKE AGAIN! Belcher smokes his first homer of the year (and picks up his 20th, 21st and 22nd RBIs - 3rd on the team), a no-doubter to left, and it's 3-0 North Shore.

6:19 PM: ...and Provencher walks to put two on.

6:18 PM: McNaughton doubles! His thirteenth two-bagger of the year.

6:16 PM: Two strikeouts, looking, to start it.

6:14 PM: Let's see how the newly-tweaked top of the order performs here in the bottom of the first.

6:06 PM: Folino fans Roof to start the game.

5:55 PM: We have lineups - Coach Falcon has shaken up the Navs lineup:
Little CF
Zurcher SS
McNaughton LF
Provencher RF
Belcher DH
Kuehl 2B
Graham 1B
Pesanello C
Geason 3B
Folino SP

Roof 2B
Felix LF
Oaks RF
Sparacino 1B
mercer 3B
Duffy SS
Nesbitt DH
Ogrinc C
Panzarella CF
Katzman SP

Droppin' bombs with Chris Kowalski

Before yesterday's (7/25) game against Sanford, the Sports Information Department caught up with Chris Kowalski, the Navigators' 6'6 beast-of-a reliever. Though we often fear for our lives when passing the intimidating "Killer" Kowalski, we found that, after chatting with him for a little while, the rumors were true...he really is the funniest player on the team. Here's what Killer had to say...

What makes the Massachusetts such a desirable summer baseball destination?

"People are really nice around here. Obviously, when there is baseball in the area, people are committed to coming to games. I go to Boston College, so I see the people there and I see that people are really involved in this league. It is good to come to Lynn, too, and see the same type of commitment from the residents here. It is just good to see that all over the place because you think that some of the small towns would not have that, but it is good to see that commitment from these guys, too."

You are a communications major. If baseball does not work out, could you see yourself becoming the next Don Orsillo or Jerry Remy?

"My main goal is to do it as a player. That has been my dream. Maybe like a coach or something or something like that, but definitely something baseball related because I love the game, and I am still a student of the game every day."

What has been your favorite Red Sox season in the past?

"It has got to be '04. Seeing that we were down 3-0 and to come back was just incredible. Just the fact that they all stuck together and no one really faltered; it was just great to see that type of camaraderie. It is something you strive for, being on a Major League team. It is not individuals, it is all 'team guys,' which is good."

Describe a scene where you finally could say, "Wow, I've made it" in baseball.

"Absolutely. When I was a senior in high school, I participated in a pre-draft workout at Yankee Stadium. I was on the mound there and I was just like, 'Wow, this is where, you know, all the greats stood.' It was just great to just stand there and throw. I hit a couple balls out in batting practice. It was a great experience. I played with a couple first-round [draft picks] and it was a great experience to see how good they are and to see how good I need to be and what I have to work on. Realizing you had made it, it is a great experience and you want to keep getting better every day."

It seems that the bullpen is pretty tight. Obviously, after the season is over, you won’t be seeing them every day. Have you guys arranged any sort of communication, maybe bedtime phone calls?

"We always have fun together, you know, Krully [Ryan Krull]. [Jason Markowitz], [Chris] Prescott and I, it is just great. We text message each other every single day, sending each other funny stuff. It is always good to just keep the humor alive. We are all here to win, we are here to get better, we are here to get innings, and that is the big thing, we are all in it together. We all root for each other when we are out there. It is great and it is what you have got to love."

Let’s talk about Boston College basketball. It could be a shaky year, but you’ve got Tyrese Rice coming back.

"Yea, it is actually good. I run with the [basketball] guys at school. My baseball coach is not too happy about it, but yea, I play with them at school. I was pretty good coming out of high school. But they are good, man. Playing in [the ACC], it is just like in baseball, that conference is tough. The Carolina's and teams like that, every year each team is good, but we are hoping for a good year. We have got some good freshmen coming in and a good sophomore class."

Related to that…You are playing in Chapel Hill. You are Al Skinner. You go in the locker room before the game. Give me your pre-game speech.

"Everyone is always looking at the number one team in the country, but no one ever looks at who is going to beat them. You go in there, we don’t care who it is, who the opponent is. The same thing for baseball. You have got guys coming in saying 'Oh, this guy is going to be the number one overall [draft] pick.' You know what, we do not care. We are going to go in there and play. That is the biggest thing with [the ACC]. Everyone is like 'Oh, you are so honored to be in this conference.' But we are not just in it to play. We are in it to win. So get in there and win. That is the biggest thing."

Sean McNaughton actually picked you to win a Navigators team battle royal, if there ever was one. What would be your technique in the ring?

"Probably just intimidate them; scream at them or something. Then I would just pick 'em up and throw 'em. But these are all funny kids, just a great group of guys here. I love 'em. They are all awesome and we are all like brothers and we all mess around with each other. It is great."

It seems that The Mighty Ducks as become the consensus for this team.

"Oh, absolutely. Quack out all the way. Absolutely."

Which character do you most relate to?

"I am probably Dean Portman. Or Fulton Reed. Absolutely, 150 percent. Wayde [Kitchens] and I are probably the bash brothers, that is what we have dubbed ourselves as. That is definitely the best comparison."

On a more serious note…would you consider yourself to be the greatest batting practice home run hitter in Navigators’ history?

"I absolutely would. I was a little angry with Coach Falcon for not putting me in the Home Run Derby. I just come here every day and try and drop absolute bombs. And that is just the biggest thing that guys always give me crap for. I can hit balls out in batting practice and then I get in the game…it is a little different story. But definitely, I would say I am at least top two…I don’t know who the other guy is, but."

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