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Summer Baseball Playoffs: Nashua earns inaugural Futures League title; Cape, NECBL playoffs also underway

by Joshua Kummins

With the dog days of August already upon us, the collegiate baseball summer season has concluded and the playoffs have begun.

In a mere week, the lights of Cape Cod League and NECBL fields will be turned off and the countdown for a new season will be set for ten months. There are only two months of your favorite summer team and you spend the other ten talking about the next year.

Before we turn the lights out on yet another fun summer, let’s get to the playoff update and see which teams will have a shot at a banner offseason leading into 2012: 

TORRINGTON, Conn. — For the Futures League, which will add a fifth team in Leominster/Fitchburg, Mass. for the 2012 season, the inaugural campaign is already complete and the Nashua Silver Knights have captured the circuit’s first championship.

Nashua closer Dylan Maki (Northeastern) induced a pop out to second baseman Logan Gillis (Bentley) as the Silver Knights earned an 8-3 win over the Torrington Titans on Friday night at Fuessenich Park.

The victory swept the “Inaugural Cup” series after a commanding 12-0 win the previous evening at Holman Stadium.

Both Maki and Gillis had outstanding seasons with the Silver Knights, garnering attention from their peers in the league.

Maki, a Gloucester, Mass. native, earned the Top Reliever Award after pitching to a 2.42 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 22.1 innings this summer.

Gillis was the league’s batting champion as he posted a .376 clip out of the 2-hole for Nashua.

The Merrimack, N.H. native smacked two hits and drove in a run in the title-clinching win, while DH Kyle Neverman (Johns Hopkins) finished 3-for-4 with an RBI for Nashua. Matt Olsen (Stonehill) picked up the win in relief.

Robbie Zinsmeister (Indiana Univ.-Pennsylvania) of the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks was selected the very first FCBL Most Valuable Player.

He led the Sharks by hitting .326 with 56 hits, which were fourth-best in the league. His nine home runs were second only to M.V. teammate Jeramy Matos (Bethune-Cookman), who slugged 13 this summer.

Pitcher Eric Perrault (Keene State) of the Silver Knights was as both the FCBL’s Pitcher of the Year and Best Pro Prospect. He pitched to a perfect 5-0 record and compilied 48 strikeouts in 46 innings, posting a sparkling 1.47 ERA in the process.

CAPE COD, Mass. — The Cape Cod Baseball League opened its playoffs on Friday night and the top two seeds in the Eastern Division have already dug a hole after just one game.

Yarmouth-Dennis pitcher Mark Appel (Stanford) scattered just five singles over eight shutout innings as the fourth-seeded Red Sox dumped the top-seeded Orleans Firebirds, 4-0, at Eldredge Park.

The late-season arrival, who came off a stint with Team USA allowed just two walks while striking out ten over 110 pitches.

Red Sox right fielder Cody Keefer (UCLA) finished the night 2-for-4 with a run scored and a pair of RBI, while the league’s Tenth Player Award winner Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) had one of five singles for Orleans.

John Brebbia (Elon), who is a native of Sharon, Mass., also tossed eight innings for the Firebirds in the defeat and allowed nine hits and three earned runs. He struck out four and surrendered a home run to Keefer in the fifth. Tyler Gebler (Rutgers) was credited with the loss for Orleans.

In just one hour and 59 minutes, the Brewster Whitecaps took the series lead from the Harwich Mariners with a 3-1 win at Whitehouse Field.

Back-to-back RBI singles by Andrew Toles (Tennessee) and J.J. Altobelli (Oregon) were all Brewster needed to earn the victory on the road.

Starter Tony Bucciferro (Michigan State) picked up the win as he surrendered just one run on five hits while fanning eight and walking only one over seven innings. Max Garner (Baylor) pitched the eighth inning for the Whitecaps and escaped the threat and J.T. Chargois (Rice) closed out the game to collect the save.

Counterpart Taylor Rogers (Kentucky) of the Mariners took the tough-luck loss going 7.1 innings, while striking out nine and allowing just three hits.

Wareham’s Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech) delivered a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning and came around to score the winning run on Tyler Ross’ (LSU) single as the Gatemen scored a 6-5 victory at home against Bourne in the opener of the Western Division playoffs.

After Josh Turley (Baylor) surrendered just two earned runs in seven innings, Daniel Feehan (UConn) pitched the eighth inning and allowed just one hit to earn the win for Wareham.

Closer Konner Wade (Arizona) allowed a run on an error in the ninth inning, allowing Bourne’s Travis Jankowski (Stony Brook) to score, but he retired the final two batters for the save.

Hyannis Harbor Hawks’ Chad Gassman was named the Manager of the Year on Friday night before his team came back for a 6-4 win over Falmouth at McKeon Park. 

Five runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning against Commodore starter Andrew Heaney (Oklahoma State) erased a four-run deficit, while Justin Gonzalez (Florida State) smacked a two-run home run to complete the scoring.

Jon Moscot (Pepperdine) earned the victory, tossing six innings of five-hit ball, allowing four runs.

Catcher Kevin Plawecki (Perdue) had an impressive showing at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and one run scored.

Also before the game, Bill Bussiere was selected as the General Manager of the Year for the CCBL and received the John Wylde Award.

LYNN, Mass. — The second-seeded North Shore Navigators’ 2011 season came to an end on Friday night at Fraser Field as the offense went silent in a 7-0 loss to the Sanford Mainers in the Eastern Division Semifinals.

With the victory, the #3 Mainers get back to work quickly as they take on the #4 Laconia Muskrats in the Divisional Finals at Goodall Park tonight.

In the opener of the series, North Shore used a seven-inning performance from lefty Crayton Bare (Baylor) to shut down the Mainers, 8-0, while it was the Mainers’ turn to pitch the shutout as they won by a 5-0 count.

The Muskrats pulled off a shocking upset in the first round as they swept two games in a row from the top-seeded Newport Gulls on Wednesday and Thursday to clinch their spot against Sanford.

Sanford second baseman Brett Mollenhauer (Radford) drove in three runs for the second straight night, while pitchers Tripp Davis (NJIT) and Brendan Hourihan (Cortland State) combined for the shutout.

In the Western Division, the top seed Holyoke Blue Sox pitched a two-game sweep of Vermont with 4-3 and 4-1 wins. In Thursday’s game at Recreation Field, Ben Mount (USC) threw a complete game two-hitter for the Blue Sox and Trey Mancini (Notre Dame) drove in two.

It took second-place Keene three games in their series against Danbury, but the Swamp Bats got it done and advanced to the Western Division Finals.

Swamp Bat standout hurler Jeff Thompson (Louisville) held the Danbury Westerners to two hits in six innings in a series-opening 7-3 win, while Mike Augliera (Binghamton) tossed a complete game 6-0 shutout the next night.

Last night, Keene posted a 6-1 win as the Bats were paced by three runs in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth.

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North Shore 8, Sanford 0: “Maine Train” stopped, silenced by Bare’s Navigators in opening playoff game on the road

Starter Crayton Bare led the Navigators to a series-opening win over Sanford for the second straight season.

by Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. – Lefty Crayton Bare (Baylor) tossed seven shutout innings on Wednesday night at Fraser Field as he led the North Shore Navigators to an 8-0 win over the visiting Sanford Mainers in the opening game of the NECBL’s Eastern Division Semifinals at Fraser Field.

The victory sets up a do-or-die situation for the Mainers as they return to Goodall Park for the second game of the series on Thursday evening. In last season’s playoffs, the Navs took Sanford to three games in the opening round after an opening game win at home.

North Shore salvaged six of nine games in this summer’s season series and hopes to derail the “Maine Train” for the second straight year.

The Navs offense took off against Sanford starter A.J. Bazandes (Maine), chasing him from the game after just 4.1 innings of allowing six hits, five runs, and five walks in the inaugural playoff game this year.

They scored the first two runs of the game via sacrifice flies to Mainers center fielder Nick LaCroix (Franklin Pierce) as right fielder Dario Pizzano (Columbia) and left fielder Matt McGovern (Boston College) did the honors to take the lead.

Second baseman Clinton Harwick (Point Loma Nazarene) was the next batter and he laced a single through the infield to extend the lead to three runs.

Third baseman Connor Mach (Missouri) doubled in the third inning, but was one of two runners stranded on the base paths.

However, it did not take much longer for the lead to be extended once again as Pizzano lined a two-run double off the center field wall to send Harwick and DH Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame) all the way home.

Three more runs came around two innings later on a pair of hits for the Navs, but the Mainers defense did not do itself any favors. McGovern hit a one-out double and came around to score next when Harwick hit a bloop single into center field for the RBI.

After Harwick beat out the play on a steal to second, he trotted to third and scored on a sacrifice fly to center field to give the Navs a 7-0 lead.

Dario Pizzano was given a gift base as he reached on an error by Mainers second baseman and Natick, Mass. native Eric Hailer (Elon) on an attempted putout that sailed into foul territory.

Two batters later, Calbi committed an error to allow Navs first baseman Matt Boulter (Southern New Hampshire) to reach first base, while Pizzano was able to take the extra base to score without challenge.

While the offense certainly did its job, Bare did not disappoint on the mound as he threw 89 pitches and fanned four batters over his seven-inning outing, allowing just four base and three walks.

Daniel Duval (RPI) allowed one hit during the eighth inning, retiring the Mainers on 17 pitches. Brad Schnitzer (Butler) made quick work in the ninth as he retired the side, including the game-ending strikeout against LaCroix.

North Shore sends veteran crafty lefty Michael Johnson (Dartmouth) to the mound as he tries to end the Mainers’ season in their home stadium, where North Shore took its last road meeting against the Green and Gold on July 9.

Mainer workhorse Tommy Lawrence (Winthrop), who allowed just seven earned runs over a team-most 42.2 innings this year, will try to stop the bleeding as he takes the ball in Thursday night’s game two.

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East 3, West 1: NECBL East pitchers lead the way in All-Star victory at Fraser Field

Over 2,000 fans came out to the NECBL's All-Star Game at Fraser Field.

by Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. — Eastern Division starter Justin Wiley of Laconia (Iona College) retired the side in the top of the first inning on just seven pitches and the mound staff never looked back as part of a 3-1 win over the Western Division squad in the annual New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game, held this year for the first time at Fraser Field in Lynn, Mass.

The defending NECBL champion North Shore Navigators played host this year and drew 2,112 out to the ballpark to see the league’s best right in their own backyards.

Wiley was starting in place of Navs righty Hunter Rivers (Jacksonville State), who was injured and could not participate in the game. The New York native is tied for the Muskrats team lead with three wins and his 2.43 ERA is third on the team over 37 innings this summer.

Despite the loss of Rivers, the Navs were well represented in Wednesday night’s event as five players made an appearance in front of the hometown crowd that wished them a warm greeting.

Pitchers Miles Landry (Baylor) and Matt Alvarez (Boston College) each tossed an inning and escaped unscathed, despite allowing one hit.

Landry, a 6’5″ Texan right-hander, allowed a walk and hit with two outs before the inning ended on a groundball out. Alvarez, the Cranbury, N.J. native, recorded his first two outs by way of the strikeout before inducing a flyball.

The East side took the lead against Danbury’s Nick Williams (Tennessee) as he allowed back-to-back, one out hits to Old Orchard Beach catcher Tim Quinn (Assumption) and Newport shortstop Jack Reinheimer (East Carolina).

Quinn came around to score three pitches later when Gulls center fielder Kyle Johnson came home on an error by Holyoke second baseman Paul McConkey (Kentucky), giving the East a 1-0 lead. Sanford Mainer Brett Mollenhauer (Radford) laced an RBI single on the second pitch he saw to double the lead.

The teams traded runs in the fifth inning as the West side got on the board for the first and only time of the game. 

Against New Bedford pitcher Stephen Janas (Kennesaw State), McConkey redeemed himself as he lined an RBI double into center field to plate his Blue Sox teammate and first baseman Trey Mancini (Notre Dame) and cut the deficit to 2-1.

In the next half-inning, Navigator left fielder Eric Jagielo hit a ground out on the infield that scored Johnson to bring the East lead back up to two runs — a point it would stay for the entirety of the rest of the contest.

Other North Shore teammates that made appearances in the contest included right fielder and NECBL batting leader Dario Pizzano (Columbia), who went hitless in two at-bats.

Reserve infielder Clinton Harwick (Point Loma Nazarene) went 0-for-1 with a walk, while Jagielo finished the contest with that RBI despite an 0-for-3 showing in the final box score.

Sanford’s A.J. Bazdanes (Maine) earned the win as he pitched a 1-2-3 third inning, which included two strikeouts. The Nashua, N.H. native retired the side on just ten pitches and eight of the ten were within the strike zone.

Williams suffered the loss as he allowed the winning runs to the East team in the third inning. The Knoxville, Tenn. native has earned four wins in five decisions this season for the Westerners, which is tied with two other pitchers for the staff lead in Danbury.

In the top of the ninth inning, New Bedford closer Sam Dodge (Harvard) came in and pitched a 1-2-3 frame, which finished with Vermont first baseman Rob Griffith (Sacred Heart) grounding out to third baseman Harwick to close the book.

Dodge has had a very strong season for the Bay Sox, posting nine saves which is one behind Vermont’s Kyle Grana (Bellarmine) for the league lead in that category. The Rumford, R.I. native just completed his freshman season with the Crimson.

A bottom half of the inning was played, but did not make a difference in the final score with the home-standing East side in the lead. Grana finished off the game by striking out three over two innings of relief, while allowing two hits and a walk.

The league’s comissioner, Mario Tiani, presented Newport’s Jack Reinheimer with the Most Valuable Player award for the game as he scored a run while going 1-for-2 at the plate.

The NECBL heads down to the final five games of the regular season beginning on Thursday night. Holyoke and Newport each sport 24-13 records to lead their respective divisions, while Danbury is on their toes with a single less win to just as many losses.

North Shore stands firmly in the playoff picture as the second-place team at 20-18, despite trailing the Gulls by 4.5 games in the division. They would face archrival Sanford in a best-of-three playoff series if the season ended today in which the Navs would own home field advantage.

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NECBL All-Star Game TONIGHT at Fraser Field

by Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. — The North Shore Navigators will host the annual New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game on tonight at Fraser Field, with game time set for 6:30 p.m. This evening’s contest will pit the best from the Eastern and Western Divisions.

Hunter Rivers of the hometown North Shore Navigators (Jacksonville State) will start on the mound for the Eastern Division, while Keene’s Jeff Thompson (Louisville) toes the rubber for the West.

Rivers ranks third in the NECBL this season with a 1.34 ERA in eight starts for the Navs and has allowed just five earned runs over 33.2 innings. Thompson is 2-2 for the Swamp Bats in 2011 and his 2.08 ERA over seven appearances ranks ninth among the league’s qualifying pitchers.

Players will go through a few exercises for the Major League Baseball scouts on the field before the game and the itinerary of events looks like this (courtesy Navs media operations director Mike Ghika):

2:00 p.m. – Report Time for Positional Players
2:30 p.m. — 60yd. Run for Positional Players 
3:00 p.m. – East Batting Practice
4:00 p.m. — West Batting Practice
5:00 p.m. — East Infield/Outfield
5:25 p.m. — West Infield/Outfield
6:20 p.m. — Player Introductions/Gift Presentation
6:30 p.m. — First Pitch
Post-Game – Awards Presentation

Here is how the All-Star teams will be broken down and a look at which players will take the field:

Laconia Muskrats
New Bedford Bay Sox
Newport Gulls
North Shore Navigators
Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide
Sanford Mainers

Position Players:
Starting C: Tim Quinn, Old Orchard Beach (Assumption)
Reserve C: Dylan Kelly, Laconia (Middle Georgia College)
                Andy Lalli, New Bedford (Central Connecticut State)

Starting 1B: Tim Kiene, Newport (Maryland)
Reserve 1B: Paul Kronenfeld, Sanford (Georgia Tech)

Starting 2B: L.B. Dantzler, Laconia (State College of Florida)
Reserve 2B: Brett Mollenhauer, Sanford (Radford)

Starting SS: Jack Reinheimer, Newport (East Carolina)
Reserve SS: Mike Fransoso, Old Orchard Beach (Maine)

Starting 3B: Tom Richards, Newport (Washington State)
Reserve 3B: Clinton Harwick, North Shore (Point Loma Nazarene)

Starting OF: Kyle Johnson, Newport (Washington State)
                       Billy Bereszniewicz, Old Orchard Beach (Binghamton)
                       Dario Pizzano, North Shore (Columbia)

Reserve OF: Matt Foat, Newport (USC)
                       Eric Jagielo, North Shore (Notre Dame)
                       Will Johnson, Laconia (Vanderbilt)

Starting DH: Chris Burke, Laconia (Iona)
Reserve DH: Chris Costantino, Laconia (Walters State C.C.)

Coach Selection: Robby Ort, Newport (Indiana State)

Starting Pitcher: Hunter Rivers, North Shore (Jacksonville State)
Closer: Sam Dodge, New Bedford (Harvard)

Middle Innings: Tyler Mizenko, Sanford (Winthrop)
                             A.J. Bazdanes, Sanford (Maine)
                             Matt Alvarez, North Shore (Boston College)
                            Jon Prosinski, Newport (Seton Hall)
                            Michael Dimock, Newport (Wake Forest)
                            Justin Wiley, Laconia (Iona)
                            Stephen Janas, New Bedford (Kennesaw State)

Head Coach: Mike Coombs, Newport Gulls (Lakeland, Fla.)

Danbury Westerners
Holyoke Blue Sox
Keene Swamp Bats
Mystic Schooners
North Adams SteepleCats
Vermont Mountaineers

Position Players:
Starting C: Ronnie Freeman, Holyoke (Kennesaw State)
Reserve C: Tom Murphy, Holyoke (Buffalo)
                    Joe Hudson, Mystic (Notre Dame)

Starting 1B: Trey Mancini, Holyoke (Notre Dame)
Reserve 1B: Dave Ciocchi, Danbury (Binghamton)

Starting 2B: Paul McConkey, Holyoke (Kentucky)
Reserve 2B: Mike LeBel, North Adams (Rhode Island)

Starting SS: Alex Chittenden, Keene (Louisville)
Reserve SS: John Murphy, Mystic (Sacred Heart)

Starting 3B: Brett Doran, Mystic (Stanford)
Reserve 3B: Greg Bachman, Vermont (Austin Peay)

Starting OF: Tanner Krietemeier, Danbury (Nebraska)
                       Dane Opel, Danbury (Missouri)
                       Kevin Brown, Keene (Bryant)

Reserve OF: Andrew Garner, Danbury (Tulane)
                       Alex Sherrod, Holyoke (USC)
                       Jacob Daniel, North Adams (Eastern Kentucky)

Starting DH: Tyler Horan, Danbury (Virginia Tech)
Reserve DH: David Lyon, Keene (Kent State)

Coach Selection: Brett DeLoach, Keene (Georgia)

Starting Pitcher: Jeff Thompson, Keene (Louisville)
Closer: Kyle Grana, Vermont (Bellarmine)

Middle Innings: Ben Mount, Holyoke (USC)
                            Alex Norris, Mystic (Florida Gulf Coast University)
                            Nick Williams, Danbury (Tennessee)
                            Brad Monroe, Keene (Southern New Hampshire)
                            Cameron Copping, North Adams (Buffalo)
                            Jimmy Reed, Danbury (Maryland)
                            Matt Whitehouse, Vermont (UC-Irvine)

Head Coach: Marty Testo, Keene (Keene State College)

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Five Navigators selected to next week’s NECBL All-Star Game at Fraser Field

Courtesy of the North Shore Navigators

LYNN, Mass. — The 2011 NECBL All-Star Teams were announced on Tuesday morning and five North Shore Navigators garnered selection honors to this year’s annual event. The All-Star Game will be played at Fraser Field in Lynn on Wednesday, July 27 at 6:15 p.m.

Right-hander Hunter Rivers (Jacksonville State/Jupiter, Fla.) has been named the starting pitcher for the Eastern Division as a result of his 3-0 record and 0.75 ERA with the Navigators this season. Rivers is currently second in the league in ERA and has 18 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched.

Outfielder Dario Pizzano (Columbia/Saugus, Mass.) was the other North Shore player to be named a starter. Pizzano is currently third in the NECBL in hitting at .361 (35-for-97) and has two home runs, 16 RBI, and 16 runs scored. He is also second in the league with a .456 on-base percentage and is riding a seven-game hit streak.

Fellow outfielder Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame/Downers Grove, Ill.) was also selected to the roster as a reserve. Jagielo is hitting .333 (37-for-111) with 19 RBI and 15 runs scored. He currently owns an eight-game hit streak and is tied for second in the league in hits. He was a 2010 MLB Draft pick of the Chicago Cubs out of high school.

Reliever Matt Alvarez (Boston College/Cranbury, N.J.) was also named to the roster and will pitch out of the bullpen. Alvarez is 2-1 with two saves and a miniscule 1.76 ERA on the season. He also has 21 strikeouts and just six walks in 15.1 innings pitched.

Infielder Clinton Harwick (Point Loma Nazarene/Glendora, Calif.) will also serve as a reserve for the East. The freshman is hitting .309 (30-for-97) on the season, largely as a result of his .405 average in the month of July.

In addition, reliever Miles Landry (Baylor/Houston, Tex.) has been named the alternate for the East pitching staff. Landry has a 0.00 ERA and three saves in 14 appearances spanning 15.0 innings on the season. He has 14 strikeouts and has allowed just five hits while opposing batters are hitting just .098 against the righty.

Tickets are still available for the All-Star Game and can be purchased by calling the team box office at (781) 595-9400 or by visiting www.nsnavs.com.

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North Shore 4, North Adams 3: Jagielo, Navs come back late to scratch past SteepleCats

Navs LF Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame)

by Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. — The North Shore Navigators trailed late in the game on Thursday night at Fraser Field, but left fielder Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame) provided the big blow that upended the North Adams SteepleCats by a 5-3 count at Fraser Field.

Jagielo ripped a two-run single into right field that put the Navs ahead to stay and earn the Navs’ second come-from-behind victory of the season when trailing after seven innings.

North Adams took the first-inning lead against Navs starter Dan Slania (Notre Dame) as leadoff man and left fielder Chantz Mack (Miami) and DH Drew Gadaire (Davidson) scored on RBI singles with two outs.

Mack came around on an RBI single by Gadaire, while he came home himself just two batters later when right fielder Jacob Daniel (Eastern Kentucky) laced a single into medium-depth left field.

Before North Shore could crack the scoreboard, SteepleCats first baseman Sam Russell (Central Michigan) hit an RBI double that plated center fielder and Georgetown product Justin Leeson after he led off with a walk. With that, North Adams had another run and a 3-0 lead after two-and-a half innings.

The Navs rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning as first baseman Anthony Galli (St. Petersburg CC) came through to score after starter Taylor Hart (Georgia College and State) uncorked a wild pitch that skipped to the backstop.

Jagielo drove in the second run as well, lining a one-out RBI single into right field to plate right fielder Matt McGovern (Boston College) and bring North Shore within one run at 3-2 by the end of the fourth.

Both teams combined for just three hits in the fifth through seventh innings before the Navs pounded out three runs and three hits in the eighth inning.

In the inning, North Shore sent all nine batters to the plate against North Adams pitchers Andrew Loynaz (USF) and Gray Carden (Georgia Southwestern) and all three of the inning’s runs came with two outs. Following a single by catcher Chase Harrison (Cypress) to open the frame, Galli was retired on a sacrifice play and McGovern flew out to right field.

Between those two outs, the ’Cats loaded the bases via walks to third baseman Matt Boulter (Southern New Hampshire) and center fielder Saulyer Saxon (Oklahoma State), which loaded the bases for Jagielo’s two-RBI, go-ahead hit.

The next batter was Columbia DH Dario Pizzano and he sent around Saxon on an RBI single that squeaked through the infield and into right, putting the Navs ahead by the 5-3 score that they would not relinquish.

Manager Jeff Waldron called for big right-hander Miles Landry (Baylor) to save the game in the top of the ninth and did just that for the second time on the season as he retired the side despite hitting a batter in the frame.

The winning decision went to Brad Schnitzer (Butler) as he made quick work of the SteepleCats in the eighth inning, earning his first win of the season. Slania lasted five innings to start and he allowed eight hits and three runs, making way for four pitchers out of the bullpen.

For the SteepleCats, Hart did not pitch the necessary five innings to qualify for the decision as he allowed three hits and two runs over 3.2 frames. Loynaz took the loss as he allowed the eventual winning runs in the eighth inning.

The Navs return to Fraser Field on Friday as they take on archrival Sanford for a 6:15 start to kick off the holiday weekend. Following Friday’s game, they will make a return trek to York County and face Old Orchard Beach on Saturday.

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Keene 2, North Shore 0: Neumann, Swamp Bats silence Navigator bats in third straight loss

Notre Dame's Dan Slania pitched well, but the North Shore bats never came alive against Keene.

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.

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Navs first baseman Schrader earns NECBL Player of the Week honors

by Joshua Kummins

For the second straight week, a member of the North Shore Navigators took home Player of the Week honors in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. As announced on Sunday afternoon, Navs first baseman Jacob Schrader has been named the NECBL Player of the Week. 

Schrader hit .391 with three home runs and three doubles this past week, including a two-homer, five-RBI performance last Monday night as the Navs shutout New Bedford by a 7-0 score. He also added a solo shot on Saturday night in a 3-1 win over Laconia.

Joining Schrader on this week’s honor roll is Sanford starter and University of Maine product A.J. Bazdanes, who took home Pitcher of the Week honors. 

The St. John’s River Community College (FL) sophomore currently leads the NECBL with four home runs and is tied for first in the league with eight RBI. He had a team-best .355 average entering Sunday night’s home tilt against Newport.

Schrader is the second straight Navigator to be named Player of the Week as outfielder Dario Pizzano (Columbia) garnered the honors last week. Lefty pitcher Michael Johnson  (Dartmouth) was also named Pitcher of the Week last week. 

This spring, Schrader hit .287 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI for the SJRCC Vikings.

North Shore returns to Fraser Field this Wednesday night as they take on the Holyoke Blue Sox for the second time this season, but the first time on home turf. The Navs will be looking to avenge an Opening Night loss to the Blue Sox at MacKenzie Stadium. North Shore pays a visit to Goodall Park on Tuesday night where they will take on their archrivals – the Sanford Mainers — for the second time this year.

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North Shore 4, New Bedford 3: Navigators walk-off with win in home opener at Fraser Field

Dario Pizzano scored the winning run in the North Shore Navigators' opening game at Fraser Field on Thursday night. (Columbia University Athletics photo)

by Joshua Kummins

LYNN, Mass. – The North Shore Navigators trailed for the entirety of Thursday’s home opener at Fraser Field, but a returning player came through in the clutch to help walk-off with the win in front of the home crowd against NECBL Eastern Division rival New Bedford.

Second-year slugger and left fielder Dario Pizzano (Columbia) lined a no-out double down the right field line and advanced to third on a botched pick-off play by Bay Sox pitcher Rick Mangione (Seton Hall).

After two intentional walks to shortstop Andrew Dahlberg (Oklahoma) and second baseman Matt Boulter (Southern New Hampshire), catcher Chase Harrison (Cypress JC) flied out to deep left field to score Pizzano from third with a sacrifice fly to clinch the 4-3 victory.

New Bedford did not waste any time getting on the scoreboard, doing so with one out in the first inning against Navs returner Nolan Corr. Corr, a Somersworth, NH native, was strong this spring for Wheaton College as he tossed a team-best 65.2 innings for the Lyons. His efforts led the East’s leading Division III school to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000.

An RBI single by DH Mike Dibiase (Brown) bounced around in the left field corner to boost the Bay Sox to an early lead. Lead-off batter and center fielder Brent Botsford (LeMoyne) came around to score on the play after his single to open the game.

The Bay Sox doubled their lead in the second as Botsford singled home catcher Andy Lalli (Central Connecticut State) on a shot through the middle with two outs.

North Shore got on the board in the second inning, thanks to a balk by New Bedford starter Tom Marra (Holy Cross). The play scored Dahlberg from this after he reached on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game.

The big offensive play of the game came in the third inning as Navs third baseman Clinton Harwick (Point Loma Nazarene) belted a one-out home run to deep left field to bring North Shore within a run at 3-2.

That was all the scoring that either team would get until Pizzano and Harrison’s heroics in the ninth inning. In between that stretch, the Navs bats went silent for more than one complete rotation in the line-up as Marra retired 13 straight batters from the end of the third inning to the beginning of the seventh inning.

Andrew Dahlberg’s single with two outs in the seventh inning broke it up, but the Navs could not cook up any offense with two runners on base (Boulter walked next).

Marra was solid for the Bay Sox as he scattered just three hits and two earned runs, while striking out five in his eight innings, but it was Erik Lambe (Le Moyne) that suffered the defeat for the first time this season, allowing a hit and two runs without recording an out.

Corr finished his outing after three innings, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits in a no-decision. Miles Landry (Baylor) picked up the win in relief, tossing a scoreless ninth inning to set up the bats for the walk-off win.

With the victory, the Navigators sit just one-half game back of the division-leading Sanford Mainers at 4-3. New Bedford falls to 2-3 on the young summer, which is a half-game ahead of last-place Old Orchard Beach.

North Shore will conclude a brief two-game homestand on Friday night with the second of six meetings against the Raging Tide this season. 2010 Navs All-Star Crayton Bare (Baylor) will get the ball for North Shore as they look to make it two straight.

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Navs sweep first pair of NECBL weekly honors

Dario Pizzano and Michael Johnson took home NECBL honors on Tuesday. (North Shore Navigators photos)

by Joshua Kummins

A pair of North Shore Navigators swept the first weekly New England Collegiate Baseball League awards of the 2011 season as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.

Ironically (as Navs media relations director Mike Ghika points out), both award winners attend Ivy League Schools and both also have local ties.

Right fielder Dario Pizzano (Columbia/Saugus, Mass.) was named the NECBL’s Player of the Week and left-hander Michael Johnson (Dartmouth/Georgetown, Mass.) was named Pitcher of the Week for the June 8-13 period.

Both Pizzano and Johnson were also members of the 2010 Navigators team that defeated the Danbury Westerners to claim the NECBL title for the first time in franchise history.

Pizzano reached base in his first seven plate appearances of the season and had a 3-for-3 night on Friday against Newport as he hit two doubles and knocked in three runs. The Navs, paced by Pizzano’s efforts, earned a 12-1 victory at Cardines Field.

Pizzano, the Lions’ sophomore slugger, hit .359 this spring with nine home runs and 36 RBI. He led CU in virtually every offensive category.

In Friday’s game in the Ocean State, the Big Green’s sophomore lefty threw five shutout innings and allowed just one hit with seven strikeouts.

Johnson finished the spring with a perfect 3-0 record in 12 appearances for the Big Green.

The Navigators will open the 2011 home schedule on Thursday night as the defending champions take on divisional rival New Bedford.

Before the home opener on Thursday at Fraser Field, the Navs must take on archrival Sanford at Goodall Park for the first time this year at 6:30 on Wednesday.

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