Alan Burnsed hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks to a 5-4 win over the Upper Valley Nighthawks Friday night in Oak Bluffs.
The Sharks (20-13) ended a four-game losing skid and stayed atop the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Southern Division standings with a one-game lead over the Newport Gulls.
Nander De Sedas doubled in the first inning and Jackson Raper brought him home with a single to give the Sharks an early lead but Andrew Cossetti and Cole Frederick hit solo shots in the second and fourth to put the visitors from White River Junction, Vermont up 2-1.
The teams traded runs in the fifth. Burnsed earned an RBI with a single to left, scoring De Sedas, who led-off with his second double of the game.
Upper Valley got their final run of the game in the top half of the seventh. Jeffrey Costello was hit by a pitch, stole second and came home on an error to make it 4-2.
Collin Shapiro walked to begin the Sharks seventh, the fifth inning in succession that the hosts had put the leadoff batter on base. With only one run scored during that span, the Sharks finally cashed in on Burnsed’s blast, which carried into the foggy night inside the right field foul pole.
In the Nighthawks eighth, the Sharks kept their lead with a big put-out at the plate. After Andrew Cossetti doubled to the gap in right-center, Anthony Quirion rounded third base and hustled for home but Sharks center fielder Matt Chamberlain, first baseman Nick Oar and catcher Nick Raposo executed a perfect 8-3-2 to stop Quirion with room to spare.
With the Nighthawks down to their last three outs, Sharks reliever Thomas Spinelli closed the door with some heat to reckon with, striking out Brian Moore and David Marcano, firing three more strikes past Adam Smith, who advanced on a dropped ball, and snaring Jeffrey Costello’s high chopper for a game-ending put-out to first.
Sharks starter Brian Ketchie pitched the first six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out nine and walking none, before giving way to Marc Mendel, who pitched the next 1.1 innings and got the win.
The Sharks travel to Danbury, Conn., Saturday night to take on the Westerners before returning to the Tank to meet the New Bedford Bay Sox on Sunday night at 7 pm. The Sharks will honor their fans by helping them beat the heat with a free ice-cream sandwich.