by Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. – Righty Nick Neumann (Central Connecticut State) scattered just two hits over eight innings on Saturday night at Fraser Field as his Keene Swamp Bats earned a 2-0 win over the home-standing North Shore Navigators.
The Middletown, Conn. native tossed 99 pitches in the outing and struck out nine to earn his first win of the summer for the Bats and the team’s sixth. He fanned at least one batter in every frame except for the third and sixth innings and left Taylor Williams (Washington State) to close out the ninth inning for his first save of the season.
Keene improves to 6-3 on the season to clinch their third win in four games. With the loss, the Navigators drop to 6-6 and were dealt their third-straight loss.
North Shore has not seen the win column in exactly a week as their last victory came against Laconia at Robbie Mills Park last Saturday night.
Keene scored first off Navs starter Dan Slania (Notre Dame) in the second inning and improved their record to 5-0 when doing so.
After DH Esteban Gomez (San Jacinto CC) struck out looking, first baseman Brett Barrett (Southern Maine) doubled and scored two batters later as center fielder Mark Podlas (Virginia) hit an RBI single to left field to lift Keene to an early lead.
Slania would leave after five innings and was dealt the hard-luck loss as he allowed just three hits and an earned run for the Navs. The 6’5” righty, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 42nd round of the 2010 Draft, earned two wins and four saves in 23 relief appearances for the Fighting Irish this past spring.
He will now focus his attention to Monday afternoon’s exhibition contest against the USA Collegiate National Team where he hopes to make an appearance in front of the Fenway Park crowd. Slania will join his college teammate and Navigator outfielder Eric Jagielo as well as first baseman/outfielder Jacob Schrader (St. John’s River CC) on the NECBL team.
Despite just a 1-0 lead through the first half of the game, Keene felt comfortable as the Swamp Bats have yet to relinquish a lead when the score is tied or in their favor after five innings of play.
Neumann saw his lead double in the eighth inning as right fielder Michael Burruss (Georgia Southern) hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored locally grown left fielder Kevin Brown (Bryant) after his leadoff single.
He continued his tremendous outing through the middle innings and his performance was arguably better later on in the game. From the fourth through eighth innings, Neumann retired the Navigators in order 15-for-15 and struck out seven during that stretch.
When Neumann was replaced in the ninth, the Navs threatened by putting two runners on with two outs, but first baseman Anthony Galli was caught stealing second base to end the game and silence any hopes of heroics on this night.
Galli struggled all night long in his Navs debut after being signed on Friday afternoon and after his two-out single, he was cut down to end the game.
The Navs received strong performances out of their bullpen as local products Bobby Dean (Rhode Island), Nolan Corr (Wheaton) and Matt Alvarez (Boston College) each tossed scoreless innings to keep themselves in the game.
The Navigators return to action on Sunday night against Team USA as they continue their tour through the New England Collegiate Baseball League this week during which they are 2-0.
Following Monday afternoon’s Team USA/NECBL exhibition game, the Navs will play a rescheduled game against the Laconia Muskrats at 6:15 p.m. that night.