Joe Jasinski, Navigators Sports Information Department
Sometimes all it takes is an inning.
Just when it appeared that Nick Greenwood (URI) and Wayde Kitchens were settling into a classic pitchers duel, the Navigator bats turned on the heat.
A four-run third inning, highlighted by a Nick Belcher two-RBI single, proved to be all the offense Navigators pitching would need as North Shore defeated the Vermont Mountaineers 4-3 at the Historic Recreation Park in Montpelier, Vermont.
One of the constants this season has been the dependability of Kitchens…he did not disappoint.
The Oceanside, Calif.-native picked up his first win of the season, allowing one earned run on three hits and four walks through his six innings of work. Kitchens also rung up five Vermont batters.
While the umpiring from behind the plate might not have been as satisfying, Kitchens epitomizes the type of pitching the Navigators have, Head Coach Jason Falcon said.
“Again,” Falcon said, “we keep getting quality start after quality start and that is what we are looking for…and guys keep doing it.”
With runners on first and second with one out in the third inning, Mike Provencher knocked a ground ball double down the left field line, bringing home Kyle Geason and advancing Justin Little to third. A couple batters later, Belcher’s grounder to third took a wicked hop over Matt Duffy’s (UVM) glove, allowing both Little and Provencher to cross the plate.
“I got down 0-2, so I was just trying to put the ball in play from then on,” Belcher said. “I got a curveball inner-half, got it on the ground and it got through.”
An errant throw to first base by catcher Steven Felix (Troy Univ.) on a third-strike passed ball allowed Belcher to add the Navigators’ fourth run of the evening.
Besides the four-run third inning by the Navs offense, Vermont starter Greenwood pitched six solid innings, surrendering three earned runs on six hits while fanning six and walking two batters.
The Mountaineers got one back in the bottom half of the third inning.
When it appeared as if Kitchens might escape a one-out, bases loaded jam unharmed, Jay McConnell’s pick-off attempt to third got by Geason, allowing Duffy to come home.
Leading off the seventh inning for Vermont, Oaks hammered a triple to right-centerfield, under the diving glove of Justin Little. A sacrifice fly to shallow center by Roof allowed Oaks to score from third. It was the first run given up all year by Markowitz, and narrowed the Navigator lead to one run.
With a one run lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Falcon went to his closer in the bullpen, Chris “Lights Out” Prescott. After pegging the leadoff man in the back, Prescott got the next three batters to go in order to record his league-leading seventh save of the season.
Despite the hit-batsmen, Prescott and Co. has been quite dependable, Falcon said.
“Honestly, we could put any of those guys at the tail end,” Falcon said. “It’s just the way we set it up. As good of a win that is, I think we’re starting to see things out of all of our pitchers, not just Chris [Prescott].”
Geason went two for three with a single and a double. After red-shirting his freshman year at Univ. of Minnesota, he is beginning to find his swing once again, Geason said.
“I’m just trying to feel more comfortable up at the plate,” he said. “Trying to swing at better pitches. That was my problem in my first couple at-bats, I just wasn’t swinging at good pitches. I’ve just been trying to find a couple good ones to swing at, got a couple tonight.”