LYNN — While this Futures Collegiate Baseball League season may not have been a total success, at least the North Shore Navigators closed things out on a high note. The Navs earned a 2-1 win over the Nashua Silver Knights in front of their home crowd at Fraser Field Sunday night, capping a season that saw North Shore miss the playoffs by just two games.
“Obviously, the biggest takeaway from this season is that the guys just never gave up,” said Navs acting general manager Joe Gill. “It says a lot that we started off the year pretty bad, but then were only eliminated from playoff contention on the second-to-last day of the season. Our guys worked extremely hard all year.”
The Navs closed out the 2018 campaign with a 20-35 record, two games behind the Pittsfield Suns for the final FCBL playoff spot. But despite missing the playoffs, the Navs had plenty to be proud about at the end of the year, including the stellar play of new addition Sal Frelick. An incoming Boston College freshman, Frelick finished the season with a .361 batting average, which ranked second in the league, while he tied for the FCBL lead with seven home runs and for fourth in the RBI race with 36. He led the league with a .594 slugging percentage in addition to sitting among the leaders in other categories, including stolen bases (22, 3rd) and total bases (79, 4th).
“From the very first pitch this year, Sal showed that he was a special player,” Gill said. “He brought instant energy and instant offense, and he was truly a special player on and off the field. He’s destined for great things, and we’re happy for the Navs to be a chapter in that story.”
This season also saw the Navs boast their largest number of local prospects in recent memory. Jeam Castillo (Lynn), Spencer Brown (Beverly), Andrew Olszak (Danvers), Justin Foley (Lynnfield), Garret Keough (Marblehead), Zach LeBlanc (Salem), Tim Unczur (Danvers), Harrison Engstrom (Marblehead), John Prentice (Saugus), Jake Gustin (Peabody), Gavin Sullivan (Swampscott) and Ben Irvine (Peabody) all saw time on the North Shore roster this season.
“We may have had the most local talent on the roster in team history this year,” Gill said. “All of them are great guys, they all work hard and they brought it day-in and day-out. It may have taken some time to click, but once they did it was great to watch.”
All that local talent may be one of the reasons why the Navigators were able to post their highest average attendance figures in franchise history, another highlight of the 2018 season. North Shore averaged 1,237 fans per game this year.
“I think it just speaks to the brand that we’ve built up and our partnerships with local businesses and the community as a whole over the years,” Gill said. “(Navigators general manager) Bill (Terlecky) has done such a great job connecting the team to the community over the years, and it’s paying off.”
Speaking of Terlecky, it’s been a battle for him this year. After getting diagnosed with a curable form of cancer in February, Terlecky had to take a bit of a back seat this season in order to focus on his treatment. He put Gill and Ashley Laramie, both Lynn natives, in charge as co-general managers and gave them help with anything they needed all year. He even made trips back to the stadium for games, and he was honored with Bridgewell’s Employment Supports Program Champion Award in July for his work with the community.
“Bill has played such a vital role in the rise of this franchise over his time here, everything from team building to community outreach,” Gill said. “He’s done so much to help so many people, including me and Ashley this year. We know he’s got a tough fight ahead, but we can’t wait to be able to celebrate when he beats it.”
So while there may not be any playoff baseball at Fraser this month, the Navs still have plenty of highlights to celebrate.