Saturday, July 19, 2008

Garton, Provencher propel Navs to 4-3 win

Joseph Gravellese, Navigators Sports Information Department

On Monday night, with the bases loaded and the Navigators trailing the Pittsfield Dukes 4-1, coach Jason Falcon called on new addition Joshua Garton to pinch hit. In his first at-bat for the Navs, Garton flew out to left field, halting hopes of a late comeback.

Five nights later, Garton came to the plate in a similar situation against the North Adams SteepleCats – but this time, the results were much different.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the 7th, Garton delivered for the Navs, launching a two run home run to deep right to tie the score.

That game-changing moment paved the way for Mike Provencher’s walk-off single in the ninth, giving North Shore a thrilling 4-3 win in front of a big crowd at Fraser Field. Jason Markovitz (4-0) got the win, needing just one pitch to wiggle out of a bases loaded, two out jam in the top of the 9th.

“It feels great getting the opportunity to play in this league,” said Garton after the game. “I was playing in a small league back home, and getting the call to come play here was the best thing that has happened to me in quite a bit. It felt great to bring the game back in reach of a win.”

Garton’s homer also took starting pitcher Jimmy Lisowski off the hook, keeping him undefeated (2-0) on the season. Lisowski battled through seven innings, scattering six hits and yielding three runs while striking out five SteepleCats.

“I felt good,” said Lisowski, a Warwick, MA native. “Before the game, my arm felt good in the pen. Coming out here, I felt good, I just wanted to throw strikes and let my defense work behind me.”

The real stars of the night came out of the Navigators bullpen as Ryan Krull, Chris Kowalski, and Markovitz teamed up to pitch two shutout innings to keep the game tied.

After quickly getting two outs in the eighth inning, Kowalski worked himself into a ninth inning jam that nearly handed North Adams the game.

Delgado smacked a base hit up the middle to lead off the inning. With one out, Semeniuk hit a chopper down the third base line that Nick Belcher appeared to have snagged to start a 5-4-3 double play. But the umpire ruled it a foul ball, keeping the inning alive. Semeniuk went on to work a walk, putting two men on with one out. Kowalski’s wild pitch then put the go-ahead runs in scoring position.

With the infield drawn in, Kowalski got Sean Parker to hit a hard grounder to short. The runners were unable to advance, and Parker was retired for the second out.

After intentionally walking the dangerous Van Horn (3-for-3, 3B, RBI), coach Falcon went to the lefty, Jason Markovitz, to face John Malloy. Markovitz did not disappoint, as Malloy flew out to left field on the very first pitch to end the inning.

SteepleCats reliever Derek Shaw could not hold down the Navigators in the bottom of the 9th, walking Garton and Chad Zurcher consecutively to start the inning. He was listed in favor of lefty Donny White, whose first and only pitch clipped Justin Little in the elbow to load the bases.

The SteepleCats’ third pitcher of the inning, Greg Robinson, fared no better. Mike Provencher scorched a single past the dive of shortstop Jonathan Smith, giving the Navigators their first walkoff win of the season.

“I was looking for pretty much anything over the plate, anything down. I was trying to hit something on the ground and hit something hard,” explained Provencher.

Provencher and Garton were each mobbed by their teammates after the winning run scored.

“I was just excited to get in that situation,” said Provencher. “I love getting in that kind of situation, it gets me pumped up. I like coming in with the team on my back. The guys were great, cheering everyone on [from the dugout]. It was a good time.”

The end of the game may have been fun for the Navs, but it started inauspiciously.

After starting pitchers Jimmy Lisowski and Mitchell Clegg dueled through three scoreless innings to start the game, the SteepleCats put up a picket fence, scoring single runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to jump out to a three run lead.

North Adams’ first run came on a play that had previously been very kind to the Navigators this season – the pickoff.

Jonathan Smith led off the fourth inning with a single to right. One out later, Kyle Geason misplayed a hard ground ball by Ryan Delgado. His throw to first was off line, putting runners on the corners for North Adams.

With Mike Donato at the plate, Lisowski spun off the mound and attempted to pick off Delgado, but he was called for a balk. It was just the second balk of the season for North Shore pitchers, and the first that resulted in a run, as Smith trotted home from third.

Falcon went out to argue the call, but to no avail.

Kyle Geason’s second error in as many innings allowed Ryan Semeniuk to reach base to start the fifth. Sean Parker dropped a sacrifice bunt to move him into scoring position, allowing Greg Van Horn to plate him with an RBI single.

The SteepleCats stretched their lead to three an inning later when Delgado punched a base hit into left, scoring Hoilman.

But Lisowski battled back, pitching a scoreless seventh to depart with his team still very much in the ballgame.

North Shore began their comeback bid in the home half of the sixth. Clegg walked Chad Zurcher, then gave up a hard single to right off the bat of Kyle Geason. A passed ball put two men in scoring position with one out for Provencher, who grounded to second base but did enough to bring home the Navigators’ first run. Clegg avoided further damage in the inning, but the stage was set for Garton’s seventh inning heroics.

“It is huge [to get a come-from-behind win],” said Lisowski. “We came back from down 3-0, put up those runs, tied it and then our bullpen held it down to the end, and then we came up with some clutch hits in some clutch at-bats. I think knowing that we can do that will only help us down the road in close games.”

The game featured a wide range of wild weather. The game started under a burning sun, with a first pitch temperature of 93 degrees. Two hours later, the game was halted for 57 minutes due to severe thunder and lightning in the area.

The win brings the Navigators to the All-Star break with a record of 20-10, one half game behind division leading Sanford. Sean McNaughton, Tyler Kuehl, and Chris Prescott will join today’s heroes Markovitz and Provencher in representing the North Division at tomorrow’s All-Star game in Torrington, Connecticut.

Provencher will also participate in tomorrow’s Home Run Derby, one of three skills competitions taking place before the actual game (along with the Fastest Runner and the Most Accurate Throw).

“With this Sam Bat here, I going to go with about six or seven [homers] in the first round,” laughed Provencher. “I don’t know, we will see what happens. I’ll take six homers.”

The Navs resume play on Monday night with a home game against the Keene Swamp Bats. Fans can find out more information about upcoming games at the team’s official website,


Anonymous said...

What a thrilling end to a game. The home run that tied the game was all the guys needed to pick themselves up after being held scoreless during the first five innings. Heat (from a hot sun) can sap your strength, your will to play hard and it seemed that both teams were struggling a bit from the heat, but Kyle Gleason seemed more the worse for wear because of it. Kyle seems to have been struggling lately and the heat did not help. Still, the team came back and did what was necessary; and they did it well. Good game NAVs. Waiting for you (Kyle) to get it back together. We are going to need those skills of your in the playoffs.

Joe Grav said...

Geas had a tough game yesterday, but he has been VERY good defensively for the past month or so. I'm quite confident in the Navs defense all around.

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