Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fielding follies allow for Danbury comeback

Joe Jasinski, Navigators Sports Information Department

After holding the lead for the first eight innings of the ballgame, perhaps the most unlikely of causes led to the Navigators first ninth-inning debacle of the season: defensive blunders.

A three-run ninth-inning comeback by the Danbury, due in part to two ninth-inning errors by North Shore’s middle-infield, earned the Westerners their fifth win of the season, and sent the Navigators home with an 8-7 loss at Rogers Park.

With one out and reliever Chris Kowalski on the hill, Chris Daniels slammed a two-RBI single to right-center field to win the game. Both runs were un-earned. The Navigators allowed four un-earned runs on the night.

“It is a tough field, and one little error makes a difference,” Coach Falcon said. “I mean, it scored four runs for them. But hey, those are the kinds of things that are going to happen.”

The North Shore offense was able to manufacture three runs in the first inning for the second game in a row.

Following back-to-back singles from Mike Provencher and Sean McNaughton, Matt Costello belted his second home run of the season over the left-center field fence.

Despite escaping of a one-out, two-on base jam in the first inning, Navigators starting pitcher Wayde Kitchens was not so lucky in the second. After a sacrifice bunt by Kevin Jackson (Maine) moved Danbury base-runners to second and third base, Joe Witkowski flew out to Provencher, allowing Melvin Castillo to score from third base.

Castillo’s second error of the game prohibited the Westerners from escaping the fourth inning unharmed. Kent Graham was brought home on a Provencher fielder’s choice, which would have been the third out of the inning. After a passed ball permitted Kyle Geason to cross home for the Navigators’ fifth run of the evening, McNaughton cranked a Dennis Accomando offering over the right-field fence.

It was McNaughton’s third home run in the past two games.

Accomando was chased from the game after six innings of work, yielding seven runs, three of which were earned runs, on eight hits. He managed to strike out four batters while walking one.

When the lead appeared safe, Danbury’s offense reemerged.

The Westerners were able to chip away at the six-run North Shore lead with a run in the sixth and seventh innings. The runs were scored on a single by Daniels in the sixth and a sacrifice fly by Witkowski in the seventh, his second run batted in of the night. Daniels had entered the game at left field in the top of the fifth inning.

Three runs were all Kitchens allowed in his six and one-third innings of work. He surrendered eight hits, struck out five and walked one Westerner on the night.

While Kitchens was finished, the same was not true for the Danbury bats.

After inheriting two base-runners from reliever Ryan Krull, Jason Markowitz induced Kevin Jackson to fly out to centerfield, bringing home Michael Olt from third inning. A weak grounder to second base by Witkowski forced Chad Zurcher to make an off-balance throw to first, which Graham could not handle. Mahoney, who had reached second on a double, scored the Westerners’ fifth run on the error by Graham.

Kowalski came in to close the door in the ninth. After Shane Kingsley grounded back to the pitcher leaving two outs remaining, left fielder-turned-second basemen Zach Babbitt singled to start the rally. A pair of errors by Chad Zurcher and Nick Belcher allowed one run to score and put runners on second and third for Chris Daniels’ single.

The Navigators’ loss was not due to a lack of offensive production, but to insufficient coaching, Falcon said.

“We probably got out-coached there at the end,” he said. “They were making some moves when we might have been sitting back just a little too much, maybe tried to over-think some things.”

Sometimes, a loss like this is what a team needs, Falcon said.

“Those are the kinds of things that are going to happen,” he said. “I think this is a humbling loss for us. I said to the guys afterwards, ‘they’ve won five games all year, it’s their home field, they came back to win it. I don’t think we are going to have to worry about them later on, so let’s just shake it off, not worry about it, get on the bus and get out of here.’”

The loss has to be looked at as part of a larger picture, Kitchens said.

“I don’t think there’s anything for us,” he said. “It doesn’t help us, but I don’t think it hurts us. You know, just come out and play another game. That’s why they have forty games in a season.”

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