Navigators take over first place after wild win

Saulyer Saxon (left) had three hits and Eric Williams had a deciding two-run single in the ninth for an incredible 8-7 victory on Saturday.

The Navigators were down 3-1 entering the seventh on Saturday night before scoring seven times over the final three innings en route to an incredible 8-7 victory over the Sanford Mainers. The two teams entered the contest tied for first in the NECBL East, meaning the Navigators now own a one-game lead in the standings. Eight of the nine Navigators in the starting lineup hit safely in the come-from-behind win.

North Shore scored three times in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead, although the Mainers retaliated with four runs in the bottom half against reliever Bobby Dean (URI) to retake the advantage at 7-4. But in the ninth, North Shore’s Cody Dent (Florida) and Saulyer Saxon (Oklahoma State) led off with singles before Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame) had a single of his own to load the bases, although an error by Sanford moved each runner up 90 feet and allowed Dent to score to make it a two-run game.

After an intentional pass to Dario Pizzano (Columbia), Conner Mach (Missouri) was hit by a pitch to plate another run. Eric Williams (Columbia) followed with a two-run single to plate the tying run in Jagielo and the go-ahead run in Pizzano to take an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the ninth.

Matt Alvarez (Boston College) then came on for a 1-2-3 ninth inning to nail down his second save of the season. The potential All-Star owns a 0.00 ERA and now has 20 strikeouts in a mere 13 innings pitched (a 13.8 K/9 ratio). Nolan Corr threw a perfect eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts to earn the victory on the mound.

Over the first six frames, the Navs offense had managed just one run on three hits, but second baseman Michael Dunster (Clemson) led off the seventh with a single before advancing to second on a wild pitch, taking third on a balk and scoring on a groundout to make it 3-2. To follow, Saxon, Matt McGovern (Boston College), Jagielo, and Pizzano all singled consecutively to plate two more runs and take the lead.

But the Navigators gave it right back in the bottom half, as Dean allowed a hit, three walks, and a hit by pitch in addition to an error by Dunster that led to four runs and North Shore coughing up its newly-established lead. But the Navs, as they have done on many occassions this season – specifically at home, showed their resiliency and mounted the miraculous comeback in the ninth.

Sanford starting pitcher Tommy Lawrence allowed just one run on three hits over the first six innings prior to the Navs’ outbreak in the seventh, but Mainers relievers allowed seven runs – all earned – on nine hits over just three innings of work.

Navs starter Junior Mendez (So. New Hampshire) allowed three runs on four hits and five walks over five innings.

Saxon led the way with three hits and two runs scored offensively out of the leadoff spot, while Jagielo and Mach both had two-hit performances. Two thirds of the North Shore lineup recorded at least one RBI in the victory, which marks a feat that seemed relatively unthinkable given how the first six innings of the ballgame had gone.

The Navigators have now won six of their last eight games to take over first place in the Eastern Division. North Shore is off on Sunday before traveling to Newport on Monday night.

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