08/01/2020 7:28 PM
By Joshua Kummins
BROCKTON, Mass. -- Very little separated the North Shore Navigators and Brockton Rox throughout Saturday’s Futures Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader as the two teams split 4-3 decisions at Campanelli Stadium.
Following the split, the sides remain separated by just a half-game in the league standings. North Shore is 11-12, Brockton is 12-12.
After a pair of two-run innings midway through the opener lifted Brockton to the first win of the day, the Navs responded with a rally in their final at-bats and emerged victorious on the strength of right fielder Jack Whorf’s (UMass) one-out double in the nightcap. Whorf had two of North Shore’s six hits in the victory.
Fellow outfielder Ben Malgeri (Northeastern) was a key force towards the top of the Navs’ lineup all day, recording a hit and a stolen base in both games while reaching base a total of five times.
The Navs continue a busy stretch of home action on Sunday when the Rox return to Fraser Field. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
Game 1: Brockton 4, North Shore 3
Six different North Shore players recorded hits and three scored runs during the narrow loss. First baseman Alex Brickman (Dayton) was the Navs’ leader at the plate, going 1-for-3 with a two-run single as part of the team’s first run-scoring inning of the game.
The Navs got the bats going early against Brockton lefty Justin Garcia (Roger Williams) In the first inning as second baseman Alex Haba (Merrimack) led off the game with a single into right and crossed the diamond on Malgeri’s double off the base of the left-field wall. After Garcia dealt back-to-back strikeouts, Brickman snuck a base hit through the left side to lift North Shore to the early 2-0 lead.
North Shore starter Cedric Gillette (Merrimack) retired the first three batters he faced and worked around a pair of second-inning baserunners before the Rox got to him and used a two-run, two-hit third to knot the score.
After center fielder Joel Lara (Franklin Pierce) singled and advanced to third as left fielder Jacob Studley (Wheaton) reached on an error, first baseman Joe Bramanti (Maine) brought home Brockton’s first run with a single up the middle. The tying run scored through the back door as Studley and shortstop Jake Gelof (Virginia) completed a successful double steal.
Gillette recorded a strikeout to end the first opposing threat, but the Rox doubled their run total and took a 4-2 lead in the fourth when Studley sent a two-run single through the left side after designated hitter Pat Roche (Boston College) hit a leadoff double and catcher David Driscoll (Williams) walked.
Though Garcia settled into the game and earned his league-leading third win after striking out seven Navs over his six innings of work, the Navs didn’t go down without a fight. Shortstop Cody Morissette (Boston College) started the offense with a leadoff single in the sixth and took second on Brickman’s walk, but a strikeout and a double play ball ended the inning.
North Shore made things interesting against Rox closer Nate Tellier (UMass Dartmouth) during the final frame as pinch hitters Sal Frelick (Boston College) and Ryan Cervone (Northeastern) recorded back-to-back hits.
After Frelick’s infield single and Cervone’s double into the left-center gap, Haba got the Navs back on the scoreboard with a run-scoring grounder. Malgeri and designated hitter Logan Bravo (Harvard) drew back-to-back walks, but Tellier struck out Morissette and Brickman to end the two-on threat and the game, recording his second save of the summer.
Gillette suffered his first loss of the season, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out two over the first four innings. Peter Sakellaris (Virginia Tech) pitched two hitless frames and fanned a pair to finish the game on the mound for North Shore.
Game 2: North Shore 4, Brockton 3
The Navs wasted little time jumping on the scoreboard in the nightcap as Malgeri roped a first-pitch double into the left-center gap before stealing third with one out and crossing the plate with the game’s first run on a throwing error. The swiped bag was Malgeri’s team-leading 11th of the season.
North Shore pushed across two more runs in the top of the fourth to take the biggest lead of the day for either side at 3-0. Haba and Whorf led off the frame with back-to-back singles, which were followed by third baseman Jake McElroy’s (Holy Cross) sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. A passed ball brought home the first of those runs, and shortstop Juan Martinez’s (New Mexico JC) infield grounder plated another.
Evan Christopulos (Bentley) struck out batters in each of his first two frames as North Shore’s starter before working around another walk to begin the game with three straight zeroes.
The Rox tagged Christopulos for a pair of runs in the fourth as left fielder JP Knight (Bryant) followed three walks and a fielder’s choice by drawing a bases-loaded free pass and shortstop Patrick DeSalvo (Georgetown) hit a two-out, run-scoring single on the infield.
Jack Wallace (Franklin Pierce) came out of the bullpen to strike out Gelof and end the fourth-inning threat, but a two-out double followed an error and a DeSalvo single to tie the score two frames later. Just as Wallace did, Griffin Green (Virginia Tech) entered the game with multiple runners on base and dialed up a strikeout to escape further damage.
The Navs made Green a winner for the second time this summer with a run on two hits during their final frame at the plate. Designated hitter Cam Climo (UMass Lowell) opened the frame with a single and moved up on Haba’s bunt. Whorf delivered the win with one swing of the bat, belting a double into the right-field corner that brought Climo around easily.
Brockton made another offensive push in the last of the seventh as Roche singled and moved to third on catcher Jake Miller’s (Franklin Pierce) double, but Max Meier (Stanford) struck out Knight to close his second save as a Navigator.
Christopulos finished with three strikeouts, four hits, two runs and four walks allowed over 3.2 innings before some stellar work from the Navs bullpen. Wallace, Green and Meier allowed just four combined hits and fanned six over the remainder of the game.