LYNN — It’s no secret that having a reliable, lights-out closer coming out of the bullpen is an important piece of a baseball team’s success.
The North Shore Navigators have that box checked off with Marblehead native Beau Dana, who’s having a memorable season this summer.
In 18 relief appearances, Dana has logged 31 strikeouts and 13 saves — tied with Speros Varinos (2015) for North Shore’s single-season saves record. Dana has allowed just three earned runs, six walks and 15 hits over 19 1/3 innings of work. He has been named a finalist for the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s Pitcher of the Year Award.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Dana, a right-hander who plays his college baseball at Division III Dickinson College, said. “I really like the coaching staff. I really like the guys. It’s nice having the field in my backyard. It’s nice that people from my town know I’m playing for the Navigators. Playing with those guys is a lot of fun because I played against some of them in high school.”
Although coming into a game in the middle of a high-leverage situation can be nerve-wracking, Dana keeps himself calm.
“I kind of just go out there and I don’t think about a lot,” Dana said. “I go out there with one job and it’s to get people out without letting up runs. Even if it’s a one-run game I don’t think about it that way. It’s just my job.”
His two-pitch array includes a 95 MPH fastball and a slider. Dana’s fastball was his go-to pitch at the start of the season, but he’s had to make adjustments as the summer has taken its course.
“At the beginning of the season, I could get away with just throwing a fastball pretty much 99 percent of the time,” Dana said. “There are seven teams in the league and we’ve seen each team six times now. They know I’m coming in and throwing hard. I’ve started throwing my slider almost 40 percent of the time now. That’s something hitters have to adjust to.”
Dana’s success out of the bullpen has helped North Shore to its first FCBL postseason bid since 2016. He credited the team’s coaches — head coach Mike Odenwaelder and pitching coach Ariel Ramos — for building a positive atmosphere among the roster.
“I think the coaching staff has played a big role,” Dana said. “There’s more of a laid-back approach. They’ll let us do what we want but if they see something wrong, they’ll get on us. The team’s pretty close-knit. We love playing baseball and we all want to win.”
With two regular season games remaining (vs. Nashua Silver Knights Saturday and at Bristol Blues Sunday, both at 6), Dana has a couple cracks at cementing his place in North Shore’s record books. But more importantly, he’s hoping the Navigators can grab a couple wins and head into the postseason playing their best baseball. The Navigators, 30-22 this summer, sit in first place in the FCBL standings.
“A lot of teams will try to get complacent and are okay with already clinching playoffs,” Dana said. “I’m sure this team, once we get to the playoffs, we’re all very competitive guys and we’re going to want to win it. If we get stagnant and get that end-of-summer drag, that’s not going to be good. But I don’t see us doing that.”