Sports

Knights end Navs’ season

LYNN – The North Shore Navigators won six out of eight games against the Nashua Silver Knights during the Futures Collegiate Baseball League?s regular season, but Wednesday night belonged to the visitors at Fraser Field.
Behind six innings from starter Tom Hudon (St. Anselm), the fifth-seeded Silver Knights passed their first single-elimination test of the playoffs with a 5-2 win. North Shore finishes the season with a 33-23 record and will watch the Silver Knights face No. 2 seed Bristol in the second round of the playoffs on Thursday.
For first-year manager John Zizzo, his team — which set the franchise record for victories in a single season — was more than he could have asked for.
?They?ve just been a really resilient group,” Zizzo said. “It got started too late in some games, but they showed character because they fought until the end. It was a really good group of kids.”
Hudon scattered just four hits over his six innings and struck out three, earning his second win of the year over the Navs on just 89 pitches. He kept the Navs off balance and they had little answer.
?We needed a win and had to take it one game at a time,” said Brandon Fischer, the team?s Most Valuable Player and everyday shortstop out of St. Thomas Aquinas College. “We knew what (Hudon) had, he shoved and we put up pretty poor at-bats. He deserved that win and that?s that.”
The Silver Knights jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, scoring on three hits in the first inning against seven-game winner Steve Xirinachs (UMass Lowell). With two runners on, left fielder Ryan Sullivan (Bunker Hill CC) brought home the first run of the game on a single back over the mound and into center field.
After Xirinachs faced the minimum in the second, Silver Knights third baseman and St. John?s Prep product Max Burt (Northeastern) doubled and benefitted from a costly error in deep left field, allowing the second run of the night to score.
Designated hitter Erik Ostberg (Hartford) extended the lead to 3-0 in the next at-bat with another single back through the box before Sullivan doubled Ostberg home on a shot to deep left-center.
Xirinachs scattered 10 hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings over which he struck out two.
Swampscott native Trevor Massey (Boston College) pitched more than admirably out of the bullpen for the Navs from there, allowing just a single hit in 2 1/3 innings.
?He?s a great reliever, a Division I pitcher,” Zizzo said. “You can see why. He comes from a lot of different angles and keeps the hitters off balance. He?s really a guy we hope we can get back next year.”
The Navs cut their deficit in half in the eighth inning with a pair of runs on three base hits, including back-to-back run producers from the middle of the order.
After left fielder MacDaniel Singleton (Northern Essex CC) and Fischer each walked, first baseman Chad Martin (Bowdoin) and third baseman M.J. Brown (Lee) provided back-to-back hard base hits to cut the score to 4-2.
Named FCBL Relief Pitcher of the Year earlier in the night, Tufts? Speros Varinos entered from the Navs bullpen to toss the ninth. The Middleton native struck out two Silver Knights but allowed catcher Matt Fortin (Seton Hall) to score on a wild pitch, capping off a 3-for-4 night.
North Andover?s Brandon Walsh locked down his seventh save of the season with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Center fielder Sheldon Brogden (Lee) singled with one out, but Singleton rolled into a 5-4-3 double play to end the ballgame.
The Navs were a resilient team all year long, but just started the race too late.
?Baseball?s a game you?re not ahead in all the time and you have to be able to fight from behind to be a good team, a championship team,” Zizzo said. “They have the ability to do that, but they just started a little too late tonight.”

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