07/25/2019 12:22 PM
By Joshua Kummins
LYNN, Mass. -- The North Shore Navigators received an outstanding starting pitching performance on Thursday morning, but the visiting Brockton Rox limited them to just four hits at the plate en route to a 3-1 win in Futures Collegiate Baseball League action at Fraser Field.
Following the split of a two-night, home-and-home series, the Navs slip to 26-21 on the season while Brockton now stands at 25-20. North Shore entered the day’s action with a half-game lead over Pittsfield and a one-game lead over the Rox atop the FCBL standings.
Swampscott native Gavin Sullivan (Stetson) became just the second Navs pitcher in the last three summers to pitch eight innings and strike out double-digit batters in a game. He scattered just five hits and did not walk a batter while fanning 10 during his ninth start of the summer.
While Sullivan was a tough-luck loser for the second time this summer, right fielder Jose Aquino (San Jacinto) led North Shore’s offense with a 2-for-4 showing. Left fielder Sean Lawlor (Flagler) was responsible for driving home the lone run.
Sullivan retired Brockton in order through the first three innings before the Navs scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the third. It turned out to be the only run that Rox lefty Justin Garcia (Roger Williams) allowed through his five innings of two-hit, one-run ball with eight strikeouts.
After shortstop John Rodriguez (San Jacinto) reached on an error and stole second at the start of North Shore’s run-scoring frame, Aquino hit a one-out single to center and scored on Lawlor’s two-out double into the right-field bullpen. The double looked to bring home two runs, but Aquino was called out at the plate on a relay throw.
The Rox scored the only two runs they needed in the top of the next frame. Shortstop Spenser Smith (Northeastern) and third baseman BJ Murray (Florida Atlantic) led off with back-to-back singles and came around to score on designated hitter JP Knight’s (Tufts) two-out double to left.
Pitching dominated the remainder of the day as the final four innings were scoreless for both sides. Aquino drew a two-out walk before he was caught stealing to end the fifth. His North Shore teammates were then held without a hit for 2.2 consecutives frames until Aquino hit a two-out single in the eighth, but Jack Rose (Hartford) finished his third inning of relief work with his fifth strikeout.
After reliever Parker Browne (Suffolk) struck out two while working around a hit in the top of the ninth, North Shore had a chance to tag Rox closer Owen Langan (Northeastern) for some late offense and tap into its 3-1 deficit. pinch hitter Kade Kretzschmar (Dartmouth) led off with a hustle double to right. Despite not being in the starting lineup, the Big Green rising sophomore has now hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games.
First baseman Colin Wetterau’s (St. John’s) grounder moved Kretzschmar to third, but second baseman Keagan Calero (UMass Lowell) struck out and pinch hitter Dominic Freeberger (UNC Asheville) flew out to end the game.
Langan earned his team-leading fifth save for Brockton, concluding a nine-inning affair that featured 26 strikeouts between the two pitching staffs. All six of the visiting team’s hits came from different players. On the flip side, North Shore’s pitching combination of Sullivan and Browne did not issue a single walk.
The Navs continue their three-game homestand at 7 p.m. on Friday against Pittsfield. It’s another Fireworks Friday at Fraser Field, with the post-game show presented by Wayne Alarm. After taking Saturday off, North Shore will host Nashua at 5 p.m. on Sunday.