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.