The North Shore Navigators needed a victory to continue their season last night in the second game of their best-of-three series with the Newport Gulls. When all was said and done, Navigators starter Michael Johnson had come within one out of a complete game shutout against the NECBL’s most lethal offense in a 2-0 Navigators win to force a decisive Game 3 tonight in Newport.
Johnson had allowed just one hit and only three baserunners total through 8.2 innings, but due to the help of a few double plays and an outfield assist, he had faced the minimum 26 hitters with two outs in the ninth. However, he allowed back-to-back singles after that, spelling the end of his day after allowing no runs on just three hits with four strikeouts.
At that point, manager Jeff Waldron opted for reliever Hunter Rivers to get the final out, as the closer got Dan Gamache to ground out to end the game and extend the series for North Shore. The winner of tonight’s Game 3 will advance to the NECBL championship series against the team that prevails in the Western Division’s Danbury-North Adams match-up.
Newport, who finished with the league’s best record and had won 11 straight prior to last night dating back to the regular season, led the league in hitting (.275), on-base percentage (.353), and runs (211) entering the playoffs.
The Navigators, who had just three hits of their own in the victory, got out to a 1-0 lead in the first after Anthony Melchionda, who had homered in each of his last two games, plated Braxton Graven with an RBI double. North Shore added their only other run in the third when Cody Dent scored on a passed ball.