08/01/2018 8:15 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators had the tying run on third base in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night at Fraser Field, but the Pittsfield Suns notched a pair of eighth-inning runs and held on for an 11-10 win in a Futures Collegiate Baseball League game that featured a combined 27 hits.
North Shore fell to 18-34 on the summer with its fourth consecutive loss, while Pittsfield improved to 19-28 and snapped a three-game losing streak.
Michael Wynne (Wofford) led off the ninth with a walk before Jeff Mejia (UMass Lowell) lined his third hit of the game to right field, but Suns left fielder Vicente Mendoza (Southern Connecticut State) caught right fielder George Sutherland’s (Cochise) fly ball and turned it into a 7-2 double play that ended the game in the next at-bat.
Wynne and Mejia entered the game as defensive replacements in the fourth inning and finished a combined 5-for-6 with two runs scored and two RBI. Mejia and Sutherland led the North Shore offense with three hits apiece, while catcher John Prentice (New England College) and designated hitter Harrison Engstrom (Cochise) joined Mejia with two RBI.
Pittsfield completed one turn through the batting order in the first as four runs came across on six hits, including four in a row after Navs starter Matt O’Connor (UMass Lowell) issued a leadoff walk. Second baseman Drew DeMartino (Hartford), shortstop Brian McHale (Babson), and right fielder Dylan Faircloth (North Lake CC) each recorded one RBI in the frame.
The exciting opening frame continued in the bottom half as the Navs used two hits and an error to score three runs and cut the deficit to 4-3.
After Suns starter Gage Feeney (Southern Maine) issued back-to-back walks to second baseman Joey Murphy (Saint Joseph’s of Maine) and shortstop Andrew Olszak (Southern Maine) to open the frame, right fielder JP Knight (Tufts) hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice to short, Engstrom drove home a run on a grounder to third, and center fielder Ben Irvine (Maryland) reached on a fielding error in consecutive plate appearances.
Pittsfield took a two-run lead on McHale’s sacrifice fly to second base in the second, while a four-run third extended the count to 9-3 entering the middle innings. Mendoza and center fielder Alexander White (Eastern Connecticut State) punctuated the frame with back-to-back doubles, the latter of which scored two runs.
Tucker Hetherman (Southern New Hampshire) faced just one batter over the minimum during three innings of hitless relief for North Shore, which scored five runs in the sixth after both teams were held scoreless for two complete innings.
The Navs also completed one turn through their order in the sixth, which began with Feeney allowing a pair of hits and a walk after recording the first out of the inning.
Mejia singled to center before Sutherland greeted Suns reliever Brodie Altiere (Nichols) with an infield single and Prentice drove home two with a double to center. Prentice reached second and Sutherland scored on White’s error, while first baseman Corey DiLoreto (Northeastern) reached on a two-base E9 that scored Prentice to make the score 9-8.
Zach Begin (Saint Joseph’s of Maine) struck out two over a scoreless seventh, setting up a two-run bottom half of the frame that put the Navs ahead. After Olszak was hit by a pitch to begin the frame, Wynne beat out a one-out infield single and Engstrom tied the score with a sac fly to center. Mejia then put North Shore in the lead with a single through the right side.
Mendoza, who finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored, started the eighth with a double and scored as White lined a single in the next at-bat, while McHale put the Suns ahead with a two-out double. McHale was one of four Pittsfield batters to post a two-hit game and led the club with two RBI.
Begin was charged with the loss despite striking out four over three innings of two-run ball. Thomas Hughes (Oklahoma) improved to 3-0 for the Suns after limiting North Shore to two hits and a walk in 2.1 scoreless frames.
The Navs take Thursday off before hosting Bristol in the regular season’s penultimate home game at 7 p.m. Friday. North Shore then wraps up the schedule Saturday in Brockton and Sunday against Nashua.