07/04/2018 8:44 PM
By Joshua Kummins
BRISTOL, Conn. -- For the first time during this Futures Collegiate Baseball League season, the North Shore Navigators needed their ninth-inning swings to post a win Wednesday night.
After left fielder Jeff Mejia (UMass Lowell) drew a leadoff walk in the final frame, shortstop Sal Frelick (Boston College) continued his torrid start to the season as roped a double into the left-center field gap to lift North Shore to a 5-4 victory over the Bristol Blues at Muzzy Field.
North Shore improved to 11-18 on the summer as it strung together a three-game winning streak for the first time this summer. Bristol snapped a two-game win streak and fell to 17-14.
The Navs recorded just six hits in the ballgame, with third baseman Elias Varinos (Tufts) and center fielder George Sutherland (Cochise) each going 2-for-4. Lynn English graduate Jeam Castillo (New England College) pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief to earn the win in his North Shore debut before Ryan Green (Tulane) locked down a save with two strikeouts in a scoreless frame.
After both sides were retired with relative ease in the first inning, the Navs supported starter Shayne Audet (New England College) with single runs in three of their next four at-bats.
North Shore’s offense came in quick fashion in the second inning. Sutherland hit a leadoff double to right, advanced to third base on a passed ball, and scored the game’s first run on designated hitter John Prentice’s (New England College) unassisted grounder to first.
Mejia led off the third with a single to center and was replaced on the bases after Frelick beat out a double play ball to third. Varinos then recorded his second hit in as many at-bats, ripping a double to the wall in right that scored Frelick all the way from first.
The Navs scored their fifth-inning run without the benefit of a hit against Bristol starter Jake Regula (Hartford) as Mejia and Varinos teamed up for a successful double steal. Mejia drew a leadoff walk and stole second before Varinos drew a one-out free pass that set the wheels in motion for North Shore’s third run of the game.
Audet did not allow a hit in his fourth start and sixth appearance of the season, but the Navs bullpen was called after he issued five walks over 3.2 innings of work. Bristol cut its deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth as catcher Patrick Winkel (UConn) dropped a two-out single into center.
The Blues flipped the score in their favor with three runs in the sixth. First baseman Matt Bonvicini (UConn) and right fielder Peyton Stephens (Central Connecticut State) led off the frame with back-to-back singles against Salem State product Brock Riley tossed the two innings following Audet’s departure.
After pinch hitter Dylan Reynolds (Fairfield) drew a walk to load the bases, shortstop Jeremy Sagun (Central Connecticut State) singled and second baseman Ian Ostberg (Quinnipiac) reached on a fielder’s choice. Two batters later, Reynolds plated the go-ahead run as center fielder Richard Brereton (Emory) reached on a Frelick fielding error.
North Shore scored a single run in the seventh before Frelick won the game with a double two innings later. After beating out a double play ball, Mejia scored as right fielder JP Knight (Tufts) reached on a fielding error by Blues third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy (Vanderbilt) three batters later.
For Bristol, Sagun went 2-for-4 with one RBI. Mark Silvestri (Rhode Island) struck out three Navs in the ninth inning but was tagged with the loss as he allowed the game-deciding run on one hit and one walk.
The Navs have Thursday off before continuing their three-game road trip Friday night against the league-leading Martha’s Vineyard Sharks in Oak Bluffs. First pitch from The Shark Tank is scheduled for 7 p.m.