Navigators lose heartbreaker in Vermont

The North Shore Navigators were three outs away from a no-hitter with a 2-0 lead on Thursday night against the Vermont Mountaineers before things took a drastic turn for the utter worse.

Four Navigators pitchers had combined to keep the opposition hitless through eight innings as closer Matt Alvarez (Boston College) entered the ballgame to try and close it out in the ninth. On the line was not only the no-hit bid, but also the opportunity to snap a season-long three-game losing streak.

To boot, Alvarez had a 0.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 14 innings to his name as he entered last night’s ballgame. But the New Jersey native allowed a leadoff walk before Vermont’s Greg Bachman launched a two-run, game-tying home run to spoil North Shore’s bid at the first-ever no-hitter in franchise history as well as the chance at a crucial victory.

The Mountaineers’ Brian O’Grady followed with a walk before moving up to second on a sacrifice bunt, and ultimately scored the game-winning run on a walk-off single by Tyler Young for the 3-2 victory.

The final line score read three runs on just two hits for Vermont, while the Navs scattered nine hits against four Vermont pitchers on the night.

The loss marks the fourth in a row for the Navigators, who dropped below the .500 mark to 13-14 on the season. They also fell to three games back of the first-place Newport Gulls, although North Shore does still maintain the third spot in the Eastern Division, of which the top-four make the playoffs.

Starting pitcher Hunter Rivers (Jacksonville State) did not allow a hit over five scoreless innings, allowing just three base runners to reach on a pair of walks and a hit batsman. He lowered his ERA to a miniscule 0.75 with the outing.

The right-hander has now allowed just two earned runs in 24 innings pitched, while North Shore had proved victorious in each of his five starts prior to last night. Rivers also threw four hitless innings on July 8 at New Bedford, but that game was suspended due to fog and will be resumed at Fraser Field on July 22. Although those numbers do not yet reflect his season stats, jumping ahead Rivers actually has a 0.64 ERA in what has been a tremendous season thus far for the sophomore.

Meanwhile left fielder Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame), who went 3-for-3 and reached base five times, also scored once and had an RBI in the loss. The potential All-Star is hitting an astounding .706 (12-for-17) over a five-game hit streak to raise his season average to .340. He also has a multi-hit performance in each of those five contests.

Relievers Dan Duval (RPI), Bobby Dean (URI), and Nolan Corr (Wheaton) pitch the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings to keep the no-hitter intact into the final frame.

North Shore will again be on the road tonight to take on the Keene Swamp Bats (18-10).


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