Sports

Navs playoff start pushed back

If Mother Nature were competing in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League playoffs, she would have advanced to the next round after pitching shutouts on Tuesday.
Rain washed away all four single-elimination games originally scheduled for Tuesday, including the North Shore Navigators? matchup with Nashua. The game will be made up at the same time (7 p.m.) and place (Fraser Field) on Wednesday night.
WHERE THEY STAND
The Navigators finished third in the FCBL?s East Division with a 33-22 record, but hold the No. 4 seed entering their ninth head-to-head game of the season against the 28-28 Silver Knights.
Nashua, which lost six of eight regular-season contests to the Navs, finished fourth in the division and is the No. 5 seed.
PITCHING PROWESS
Right-hander Steve Xirinachs (UMass Lowell) is scheduled to be the mound for the Navs on Wednesday with a single-season franchise record seven wins under his belt. But he was not the only player on the roster to have his name penciled into the record books this summer.
If the game is close, it is likely that Swampscott native Trevor Massey (Boston College), the Navs? ERA leader, or Tufts University?s Speros Varinos will come out of the bullpen.
While St. John?s Prep alum and third-year Navigator Rob DiFranco (Bates) fulfilled a temporary contract in the Cape Cod League to begin the summer, Varinos was more than sufficient in filling in as (and ultimately remaining) the team?s closer.Varinos, a Middleton native, set franchise records with 13 saves and 26 appearances. In addition to leading the league in those two categories, Varinos struck out at least one batter in 18 of his outings.
DiFranco did not miss a beat returning to Lynn either, appearing from the bullpen 18 times with the Navs while allowing just four earned runs in 21 2/3 innings.
WHO?S HOT
Shortstop Brandon Fischer?s (St. Thomas Aquinas) bat has not really cooled off since the start of the season en route to earning the team?s Most Valuable Player award. But the same can be said for Chad Martin (Bowdoin) who started at first base in each of the team?s games since July 10.
Martin went 15-for-40 over the final 10 games of the regular season, scoring eight runs and driving in six more. His 213 at-bats led the FCBL this season and were nine more than Fischer, while his 13 doubles and 66 runs scored were among the league?s top five marks. The Rowley native became the ninth Navigator of the season to hit one of the team?s league-leading 21 triples in Thursday?s win over Wachusett.
After six consecutive games without a hit, catcher Michael Rizzitello (Dowling) posted four over his final four games. His leadoff single in the third inning of Friday?s win over Seacoast came a night after he went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI for his first multi-hit effort since July 24.
POSTSEASON HISTORY
The Navs will be making their seventh postseason appearances in eight years as a franchise after narrowly missing out for the first time in 2014. The team?s only league championship came in 2010, as a member of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Wednesday?s contest will mark the team?s first home playoff game since losing the FCBL Championship Series opener in 2012, when the Silver Knights went on to win their second title in as many seasons.
In a single-elimination opening-round game two years ago Tuesday, North Shore lost an 11-inning heartbreaker to Brockton at Nashua?s Holman Stadium. Catcher Kyle Devin, who had just graduated from Lynn Classical that year (and now attends the University of Rhode Island) is the only current Navs player who appeared in that game.
AROUND THE FCBL
Martha?s Vineyard (34-20) captured its third consecutive division championship with its Sunday win over the Navigators and will host No. 8 Pittsfield (25-30) to open the playoffs. The Sharks dethroned two-time defending league champion Nashua in 2013 before falling in back-to-back games to Worcester last year.
Other matchups ha

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