BROCKTON – The North Shore Navigators saw their season-long,4-game winning streak end Thursday afternoon at Campanelli Stadium, as the Brockton Rox scored in three of their final four innings at bat to walk off with a 7-6 victory.
The Navs slip to 20-26 on the season with the loss, while the Rox improve to 24-19, which is the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s best record, despite a five-game losing streak entering the day.
Center fielder Austin Masel (Holy Cross) and right fielder Ted Leathersich (UMass Lowell) each went 3-for-5 to lead the way for North Shore, which held a 13-10 hit advantage on the day. Masel drove in one run, and Leathersich scored two himself in what was his first three-hit game in a North Shore uniform.
Matthew O’Connor, Leathersich’s teammate at UMass Lowell, retired the first four batters he faced in his sixth start of the season for North Shore, but one swing of the bat from Rox first baseman Tremaine Spears in the second inning changed the score in the hosts’ favor. The Louisiana-Lafayette product cleared the bullpen in left field for a solo home run, his second of the season.
The Navs quickly answered with a two-run top of the third to take their first lead of the day at 2-1. Leathersich and first baseman Alec Cargin (Wofford) hit back-to-back, one-out doubles to tie the game, while Masel brought Cargin home with a knock through the middle two batters later.
Third baseman Nick Falkson (Tufts) also had one of the Navs’ four hits in the frame with a two-out single to center field. It was his fourth hit in 10 innings as he followed up a 3-for-4 night in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Seacoast, which the Navs won, 3-1. Falkson finished the day 1-for-3 and walked twice.
Brockton brought a single run across the plate in the fourth as second baseman Kyle Ruth (SNHU) hit a sacrifice fly to left field. Two innings later, the Rox scored twice to claim the lead back as catcher Nick Garland (Central Connecticut State) hit a leadoff triple and scored on a wild pitch, and Ruth hit an RBI single off Navs reliever Brandon Musto (Brandeis) with one out.
The Navs would not go down quietly as they sent seven men to bat in the seventh inning, scoring three times on two hits, all with two outs.
After Falkson walked and second baseman Nick Fuhrmann (Frostburg State) singled, left fielder Jeff Mejia (UMass Lowell) hit a 3-2, two-out pitch over Brockton center fielder Aldrich De Jongh’s (FAU) head for a bases-clearing double. Mejia was the only Navigator with multiple RBI in the game, although five of the team’s 13 hits went for two bases.
Brockton continued the see-saw game with two runs in their half of the seventh, thanks to De Jongh’s leadoff home run and left fielder Sam Cochrane’s (Eckerd) single through the right side that capped a stretch of three consecutive two-out hits.
Leathersich opened the eighth with his third hit of the ballgame and scored all the way from first after Cargin’s single forced a relay throw that skipped away from Brockton third baseman Chris Berry (North Florida) and into shallow left field. Skyler Henderson (Erskine) worked out of his own jam later in the four-hit inning, inducing a grounder to first base from Mejia.
Musto scattered five hits and allowed just the two runs in his North Shore debut, posting a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout to keep the game tied entering the ninth. He relieved O’Connor, who struck out three Rox over the first five frames.
Brandon Nesseralla (Northwestern Oklahoma State) held the Navs off the board in the ninth inning, in the bottom of which the Rox drew two walks against Austin Batchelor (Boston College) and Garland dropped a walk-off single into left field.
The Navigators return to action tonight at Fraser Field as they host the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs at 7 p.m. in the first of two meetings between the teams in a three-game span. It will be Alzheimer’s Awareness Night and Fireworks Friday at the ballpark.