Navs can’t maintain ninth-inning lead

After scoring twice in the ninth to take a 3-2 lead on Monday against the Newport Gulls, the Navigators ultimately gave it right back as a result of an error, a dropped third strike, a wild pitch and a walk-off passed ball in a 4-3 loss to the first-place rival.

After All-Star closer Matt Alvarez (Boston College) came on to try and shut the door for the Navigators, Jack Reinheimer reached with one out on a dropped third strike in what proved to be a sloppy ninth inning for the Navigators. Newport’s No. 9 hitter Jeff Mellilo then singled on a 0-2 pitch to bring All-Star Kyle Johnson to the plate.

Johnson, the speedy leadoff hitter for the Gulls, grounded one to third baseman Conner Mach (Missouri) which could have gone for a game-ending double play. Instead, the throw from second baseman Matt Boulter (SNHU) got away from first baseman Eric Williams (Columbia), which allowed Reinheimer to score the tying run. Williams was charged with the error on the play.

After a walk, Johnson moved to third on a wild pitch from Alvarez. Then, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat to Matt Foat, a passed ball by catcher Chase Harrison (Cypress) allowed Johnson to score, ending the ballgame in brutal fashion.

The win was the Gulls’ fifth straight, as they all but locked up the Eastern Division with the victory, moving to 4.5 games up on the second-place Navigators with less than a week to go in the regular season.

The Navs had tied the game previously in the ninth when Mach reached on an error by All-Star third baseman Tom Richards to begin the inning. After a sacrifice by Williams, Boulter singled to score Mach and make it a 3-3 game. Boulter then went first-to-third on a single by Cody Dent (Florida) before Matt McGovern (Boston College) singled him home to take a 4-3 lead.

Navigators’ All-Star outfielders Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame) and Dario Pizzano (Columbia) both turned in 1-for-4 performances in the loss. As a result, Jagielo extended his current hitting streak to 15 games while Pizzano, the NECBL Player of the Week, lengthened his to 14 straight.

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