The North Shore Navigators took Game 1 of the NECBL Championship Series last night in a 2-0 win over the Danbury Westerners at Fraser Field. The Navigators, who took two in a row over the Newport Gulls to clinch the Eastern Division title on Saturday, got 7.1 scoreless innings from starter Kevin Kyle last night in the victory and are now just one win away from the league title.
The Navigators will be in Danbury tonight for Game 2 with an NECBL championship at stake. Daniel Patrick will get the start for North Shore, while Sean Hagan gets the ball for Danbury in a must-win scenario.
Down two in the eighth inning with one out, Danbury loaded the bases against Kyle on a single and a pair of walks, forcing manager Jeff Waldron to go to his bullpen at a critical point in the game. But reliever Dan Duval, who posted a 2.38 ERA in 19 games during the regular season, came on and got Brett Knief to hit into fielder’s choice that cut down a run at the plate before Brandon Boudreaux flew out to end the inning.
Kyle had 12 strikeouts and allowed just five hits in his 7.1 scoreless innings of work. Navigators’ closer Hunter Rivers allowed a leadoff single to begin the ninth, but he retired the next three with the help of two strikeouts for his third save of the postseason.
North Shore got both of their runs in the first inning against Westerners starter Kevin Kilpatrick. Matt Hamlet plated Jason Banos with a run-scoring double to the gap in left center, and third baseman Anthony Melchionda later knocked in Hamlet with a single to right for his team-leading sixth RBI of the playoffs.
Melchionda finished 2-for-3, while Dario Pizzano had two hits in as many at-bats in the North Shore victory. Kilpatrick went the distance in the loss, as he allowed just two runs while scattering eight hits over eight innings.