Monday, August 4, 2008

Navs' home run barrage not enough as Keene clinches series

Zander Kean, Navigators Sports Information Department

When a baseball team hits five home runs in the course of a single game, as the North Shore Navigators did Sunday in Keene, they will generally come away with a resounding victory. But luck wasn’t on the Navs’ side as the Swamp Bats hit three bombs of their own, battling through multiple North Shore comebacks en route to a 10-7 victory.

North Shore came into the game looking to bounce back from a shutout loss at Fraser Field the night before. But it was Keene who got on the board first. After starter Sean Bierman shut down the Navs in order in the top of the first, Keene pounded out six hits – including a solo home run by Chris Tremblay - in the home half of the inning. Sean McNaughton stopped the bleeding by throwing Alex Lee out at home for the third out, but not before three runs crossed the plate against North Shore starter John Folino.

The Navs picked up a run in the top of the second. After Frank Pesanello doubled Kent Graham over to third, Graham came home on a groundout by Chad Zurcher, cutting the deficit to 3-1.

Folino was able to settle down after the first inning. Though Keene catcher Franco Valdes led off the second with a home run to left, Folino did not allow another run until the fifth. He credited a first-inning mound visit from head coach Jason Falcon with helping him get going.

“[Falcon] pretty much said ‘don’t worry about it, keep doing what you’ve been doing all summer.’ I was making good pitches and hitting spots, but they were just hitting the ball, kind of throwing the bat at it,” Folino said. “And that is what’s going to happen at the next level, so you can’t really complain.”

Over the next two innings, the Navs erased their deficit with a trio of solo home runs. McNaughton drilled the first pitch of the fourth inning over the left field fence, and two batters later, Pesanello deposited one to left-center. Then in the fifth, Mike Provencher tied the game with a left-center shot of his own.

But Keene was able to break through again in the bottom of the fifth. Evan Chambers doubled to left, followed by a Josh Chester triple and a Tremblay double. Chambers and Chester touched home, giving the Swamp Bats a 6-4 advantage.

Once again, the Navs would not be denied. With Nick Belcher on second, Pesanello crushed a Sean Tierney pitch well over the left field fence to tie the score at six. The North Shore catcher finished 4-4, with two home runs, a double and a single.

“I was seeing the ball pretty good today, I got it going. It took a while, but I was seeing the ball well and I got pitches to hit, so it worked out.”

But North Shore’s luck began to run out in the bottom of the inning. With Jason Markovitz on the mound, Keene loaded the bases with one out. Then, Cliff Hicks ripped a grounder toward Kyle Geason at third. If the ball had the gone six inches farther to the right, Geason could have snagged it and recorded at least one out. But instead it deflected off his glove, plating two Keene runners. That put the Swamp Bats ahead for good, 8-6.

Keene picked up another run before the sixth was done, but the Navs didn’t go down quietly. McNaughton blasted another one over the wall in the seventh to make the score 9-7. The home run was McNaughton’s fifth of the season, tying him with Provencher for the team lead.

“Sean McNaughton hit the crap out of the ball all year long,” Provencher said. “I have never seen someone hit the ball like he does, especially with a wood bat, it was just great. It was a great bunch of guys to be around, you can’t have a better time playing baseball."

Fittingly, Keene picked up the game’s final run with the long ball in the bottom of the eighth, this one off the bat of Dan Grovatt. James Wise then shut down North Shore in order in the ninth for his second save in as many nights.

With the loss, the Navs’ season is over, and the players will start heading back home over the next few days – some as early as 7:00 Monday morning. But though their summer season is over, they will all have great memories to cherish.

“I met twenty-four great guys, so you can always have that to fall back on,” Graham said. “We obviously didn’t go as far as we would have wanted to, but there are still more important things than that. I think our team achieved a lot, and it will be sad to leave these guys, man.”

After the team had their final postgame meal at the Keene buffet, owner Phil Rosenfield – in collaboration with the coaches, writers and broadcaster Brett Franklin – handed out some team awards. McNaughton received team MVP, Jimmy Lisowski got the team’s Cy Young award, Chris Prescott was named Fireman of the Year, and John Hill received the Gold Glove.

Each award had stiff competition, a testament to the high level that the entire team played at over the course of the summer. As he said after the game, Falcon couldn’t have asked for a better team to coach for the past two months.

“We did a lot of really good things throughout the year, we probably had the best pitching staff in the league. But I think, more importantly, what we had the best in the league was attitudes,” Falcon said. “They didn’t give me any problems off the field, they weren’t a pain on the field. As a summer league coach, that’s probably the most important thing. The only other thing I could ask for is to win the whole thing, but you know what, you can’t be greedy.”

The team will attend a breakup brunch at Brothers Deli in Lynn on Monday. And though that will officially end their summer, they will all keep in touch throughout the upcoming year. Some of them will face off on the diamond next spring. And who knows, some might even meet in professional ball a few years down the road.


Anonymous said...

yea jimmy cy young award!!!!!!

hamilljr said...

We thoroughly enjoyed watching this group of boys play baseball this summer!Every one of them were fine young men,respectful,kind and grateful! Your families should be very proud of you!Kudos to all the interns and employees for your hard work and dedication throughout the season! We hope to see you all back in 2009!Best of luck to all of you!
The Hamill Family

Anonymous said...

All we can say is that the "NAvigators" should be very proud of their accomplishments this season. You played some great baseball and supplied us with a wonderful source of "summer entertainment"!!!! We throughly enjoyed having you around this summer. Good luck to you all with your future endevors.. Look forward to seeing you next year!!
Tony & Kathy Sasso

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the previous two posts. My son and I went to a bunch of North Shore Spirit games the last few years, and I found the Navigators to be much more enjoyable. The kids were extremely polite and played the game the right way. It's too bad they're not playing for another week, but every one of them should hold their head high.

We'll definitely be back next year.

Sean and Matthew Collins

Anonymous said...

I am so excited can you confirm talks are in the works for a new head baseball coach from Trinity, CT?

Anonymous said...

To All the Nav's Crew and host family - thanks for everything. Our son had a wonderful time playing summerball there. Good Luck to all of you.

The Kitchens Family

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how the Cy Young award was chosen????

Anonymous said...

The award is voted on by 28 members of the BBWAA (one from each Major League city). The award has used since 1970 a weighted score system. Each casts a vote for first, second, and third place among the pitchers of each league. A formula used to calculate the final scores of each picher, where:

Score = 5 * (number of first place votes) + 3 * (number of second place votes) + (number of third place votes)

The pitcher with the highest score in each league wins the award. If two pitchers receive the same number of votes the award is shared, however this has not occured since the current system was put into place.

Anonymous said...

thank god its over with I bought season tickets for what a coach that is rude to fans and doesn't aknoledge young children. I read they may get someone else I can only hope so because I won't buy another ticket. Get a new coach or get over the empty seats I have seen alot since Dominican night.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what that last comment is about? I spoke with Coach Falcon several times, and he was never rude. He autographed a ball for my son and got some of the players to sign it as well.

Anonymous said...

After reading both comments - I asked my son who was a player on the team... he said that Coach Falcon was NOT a rude person.

Maybe you just caught him at a bad time. The players were very tight and the team had good unity -- you don't see that if the coach is disliked; is a "screamer", or is disrespectful.

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