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Nighthawks Notebook: Newport, Sunapee Grads Land NECBL Spots

  • Lebanon Post 22 senior baseball pitcher Andrew Houde rests between innings during Sunday's 9-0 defeat of Keene Post 4 at Lebanon High.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, July 30, 2017

Andrew Houde got the call right after his stint with the VBCBL Waves with the Virginia Beach Collegiate Baseball League was finished. Luckily enough, the Keene State College sophomore’s next stop in summer baseball was a little closer to home.

He isn’t the only former Upper Valley high school baseball standout to get a cup of coffee in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the season’s final weeks. Sunapee High graduate Jack Weinberger, a senior-to-be at Springfield (Mass.) College, joined the Vermont Mountaineers just before last week’s leaguewide roster freeze.

“I couldn’t wait,” said Houde, who joined the NECBL’s Keene Swamp Bats on July 13. “The competition is just so good in this league. As a pitcher, I feel like I’ve grown already. I’m just trying to minimize my mistakes.”

Houde, a Newport High graduate, made 17 appearances and five starts in his freshman season with the Owls. He finished the spring 2-5 with 50 hits, 31 runs allowed, 42 strikeouts and a 4.66 ERA in 48⅓ innings.

His one appearance for the Swamp Bats heading into the weekend was on July 20, a 14-6 loss to the North Adams SteepleCats in which Houde threw three innings and gave up five hits, six runs and two walks.

“Every pitcher is throwing at least 90; every hitter is bigger and stronger (in the NECBL),” he said. “This league is one of the best leagues to play in. I’m excited to be here.”

Weinberger signed with the Mountaineers last week as well, getting activated on July 25, the roster deadline. The 6-4, 200 pound righty made 12 appearances for the Pride as a junior this spring, going 2-3 with 14 hits, 13 runs, five walks and 23 strikeouts in 15⅓ innings. He made his Vermont debut on Wednesday, a 13-2 loss to the Newport Gulls in which Weinberger gave up seven hits, six runs and one walk in 1⅔ innings.

Weinberger’s short stint in the NECBL will end with the Mountaineers regular-season; Vermont didn’t qualify for the postseason, something Houde may get with third-place Keene.

“This is an awesome opportunity to play at this level in a summer league,” Houde said. “I just want to be a better pitcher and a better teammate, be more mature and all that.”

Welcome, Additions: The Upper Valley Nighthawks added seven players in 10 days following a round of late-season departures before the NECBL’s signing deadline last week.

Southern New Hampshire outfielder Ethan Harris was the first, signed on July 18 to give the Nighthawks lineup the speed, outside of shortstop Matt Sanders, it had lacked all summer. Harris, a sophomore with the Penmen, entered the NECBL’s final regular season weekend batting .154 for Upper Valley in four games.

Connor Rowland, from Palm Beach Atlantic, and Matt Rothenberg, from Harvard, have become staples in the Upper Valley lineup since arriving at the signing deadline from the South Florida Collegiate League. Rothenberg scored one run in each of his first three games for the Nighthawks, including the game-winner in a 1-0 win over the Sanford Mainers at Maxfield Sports Complex on Thursday.

Bullpen arms Kody Gardere (Indian River State), Jacob Nappi (Felician), Adam Heidenfelder (SUNY Old Westbury) and Julien Arcos (Long Island University) were also signed by Nighthawks general manager Noah Crane at the deadline, giving Upper Valley some pitching depth for its playoff run.

Gardere made his debut on Thursday, pitching a shutout inning in relief against the Mainers. Nappi gave up three hits, one walk, a run and got the win in a 10-6 victory over the Winnipesaukee Muskrats on Friday in his NECBL debut.

Candidate Coss: Upper Valley pitcher Mike Coss lost out on the NECBL All-Star fan voting to Vermont’s Jared Skolnicki, from Kent State, a contest to decide to decide the 30th and final players for the Northern and Southern rosters for tonight’s showcase, but not before a hype video made by Nighthawks bullpen arm Keller Bradford made the rounds online.

“Who is Mike Coss?” Coss asked in the video, recorded last Saturday at Vermont’s Recreation Field. “I’m a three-time Nighthawks mafia champion. I won best dab in the Northeast in 2015. I have a five-star overall Uber rating, and I was a 2011 rec league all-star.”

“I mean, Mike Coss … Women love him, men want to be him,” said teammate Connor Hood in the video. “He’s kind of a father figure for the team. Just a good guy.”

Coss, the Pompton Lakes, N.J., native from Marist University, is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his second summer with the Nighthawks. He might have to sit out the All-Star Game, but the video will live on.

“What does Mike Coss mean to me? He means everything,” added St. Joseph’s backstop James McConnon in the video. “I’m his personal catcher. If Mike didn’t pitch, I wouldn’t be catching anymore.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.