By: Caden Charpentier – Media Operations Coordinator
After another offensive explosion for the Newport Gulls (30-14) with a 10-run sixth inning, the Gulls clinched the first-ever Coastal Division title. Newport defeated its in-state rivals, the Ocean State Waves (21-22) 10-3 at Cardines Field in the sixth and final regular season matchup between the two teams on Friday, winning the season series 4-2. It is Newport’s first division title since 2015, and the first time with 30 or more wins in the regular season since 2013.
Ocean State jumped out to a 3-0 lead, holding the Gulls to just two hits entering the bottom of the sixth. That’s when the game was turned upside down.
Kolton Freeman drove home the first run with an RBI-double into the gap in right centerfield. Colton Ledbetter’s broken bat ground out brought Newport within one run with just one out in the sixth. It was Ledbetter’s 47th RBI of the summer, which is the best in the NECBL.
Four straight hits, including an RBI-double by Noah Martinez forced Ocean State to the bullpen with the Gulls now owning a 5-3 advantage in the blink of an eye. After a Luke Beckstein walk, and a Joshua Kuroda-Grauer stolen base, Burnley flipped the game on its head, crushing Newport’s fourth grand slam of the season over the fence in left field and propelling the Gulls to a 9-3 lead.
Burley has now had three or more RBIs in three out of the last four contests, and two grand slams against the same team in an eight-day span. The Brown catcher is batting .500 in the last seven days, which is good for the best batting average on the team over that period.
The Gulls’ weren’t done yet, and two batters later Freeman blasted a no-doubter over the right centerfield wall for his third home run of the season. Freeman now has at least one hit in five out of his last six games. It was the 12th time this season that Newport has put together an inning of six or more runs.
On the mound, the Dartmouth product Tyler Cortland came out of the bullpen and dominated, pitching four innings of no-hit baseball. Cortland walked just one batter, and struck out six, bringing his ERA down to 1.71. It is tied for the longest Cortland has gone in a game this summer, and the most punchouts he was able to record in a single outing. As a team, the Gulls held the Waves scoreless in the final six innings.
While this marks the end of the regular season for Newport, the Gulls begin their quest for a seventh NECBL Championship and Fay Vincent Sr. Cup. First is a matchup Monday in a single-elimination Wild Card Game. #3 Newport awaits to see who finishes as the #6 seed. The game is at 6:35pm at Cardines Field. With a win, the Gulls would move on to the semifinal, best-of-three round of the NECBL Playoffs.