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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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