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Nighthawks Win Over Mystic With Many Arms

  • Former Hartford High School player Jordy Allard pitches at a game for the Upper Valley Nighthawks on June 10, 2018 in Hartford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sisters Alexis Jasmin, left, and Emily Jasmin both of White River Junction, Vt., walk in from the field after throwing out the first pitch. It was princess and pirate night at the Upper Valley Nighthawks game on June 10, 2018 in Hartford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Upper Valley Nighthawk's manager Jason Szafarski watches his team playing the Mystic Schooners on June, 10, in Hartford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, June 10, 2018

White River Junction — If Upper Valley Nighthawks head coach Jason Szafarski was excited about what his pitching staff looked like on paper before the season started last week, he walked away from Sunday evening’s 8-0 win over the Mystic Schooners at the Maxfield Sports Complex ecstatic about his options on the mound going forward.

The Nighthawks, 3-1 in their first four games, used seven different pitchers against the Schooners, allowing a collective five hits and no walks while striking out nine in the shutout-by-committee. Greg Hardison (UNC-Greensboro) led the way offensively with three hits and three RBIs. Upper Valley piled on five runs in the eighth inning to secure the victory.

“We threw seven different arms; they all came in throwing strikes,” Szafarski said. “I don’t even know if we walked anybody. Getting ahead, locating, it’s kind of been the story for the last couple of days. I think they’re getting settled in with one another, getting settled into their roles. That’s pretty much what I expected of them.”

For Elon Unviersity righty Ty Adcock and Iona College righty Stephen Hansen, the outing was a chance at redemption. Each struggled in their respective NECBL debuts — Adcock gave up three walks and two runs in one inning of UV’s season-opener at North Adams; Hansen was shelled in two-thirds of an inning at Keene on Friday, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk before getting pulled.

It was a different story against Mystic. Hansen allowed a sixth-inning hit, and Adcock earned a strikeout in the seventh. Upper Valley entered an off day today with the league’s fourth-best pitching staff with a 3.60 ERA and anNECBL-low 12 walks in 35 innings.

“It was really important (for me), honestly,” said Adcock, a converted catcher-outfielder who only pitched 11⅔ innings for the Phoenix this spring. “It was a staff day today. It was important for everyone to come out of the pen and throw strikes. That was kind of my main focus. … My last outing, I think I was just trying to overthrow a little bit, missing up, out and all around. I couldn’t find the strike zone. Today, I just told myself to calm down and throw strikes.”

Added Szafarski: “The more (Adcock) is out there, the more comfortable he’s going to get. … He was able to locate a lot better than he was against North Adams.”

Upper Valley’s offense had trouble against Schooners starter Zach Thompson (Maryland), who allowed just two hits and a walk over five innings. But the Nighthawks chipped away, scoring a run in the third, sixth and seventh innings before blowing things open in the eighth.

Drew Tipton (Arkansas State) opened up the scoring in the third inning, tagging home plate on an error. Chris Berry (North Florida) added another run in the sixth off a ground out by Davis Mikell (Castleton). Eric Feliz (Notre Dame) scored in the seventh off an RBI single from Hardison for a 3-0 lead going into the eighth inning.

Hardison had a tough day at second base, making Upper Valley’s two errors in the game. The Nighthawks also had three errors in a 4-1 win over Winnipesaukee on Saturday.

“The fields I’ve been playing on are just faster down south,” Hardison said. “The grass is cut shorter. (At Maxfield) ground balls kind of die. Once it gets in the dirt, it’s tricky where it’s going. I’ll get used to it.”

In the eighth, Berry reached base on an error, and Anthony Quirion (Lamar) and Anthony Meduri (Binghamton) were hit by pitches, leaving the bases loaded for Ross Cadena (Wichita State). Cadena knocked a single up the middle to score Berry, keeping the bases loaded. Feliz and Hardison each followed up with two-RBI hits, opening the flood gates.

“I’m trying to have quality at-bats, put the ball in play, just trying to get used to the pitching,” Hardison said. “I haven’t seen a lot of pitching in a week or two when I got here. It’s been a good adjustment. I’m seeing the ball well.”

Berry finished the game 1-for-4 with two runs scored for the Nighthawks, getting first hit of the season. Feliz was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Quirion was 1-for-3 with a run.

“We’re just getting comfortable (with each other)” Szafarski said. “That’s why today we threw so many arms, so we really get to see everybody. As we start to define roles, it was good for me to see them in different situations against a pretty good hitting team.”

Upper Valley has today off before traveling to the New Bedford Bay Sox on Tuesday. The Nighthawks return home for a rematch with the Winnipesaukee Muskrats on Wednesday.

Notes: Tipton was pulled from the game in the fifth inning with soreness in his groin, replaced by Wichita State’s Hunter Gibson. Tipton is batting .467 with seven hits, five runs scored, four doubles and four RBIs in his first four games as Upper Valley’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder. Szafarski and Nighthawks general manager Noah Crane said the move was precautionary and that Tipton should be good to go on Tuesday. … Gibson is 0-for-16 with a walk, a run scored and five strikeouts in his first four Upper Valley games. … Making his first start of the season, Hartford High graduate and SNHU righty Jordy Allard struck out two and allowed two hits in the first two innings against the Schooners. … Plymouth State’s David Sampson, the only returning Nighthawk from last summer, was credited with the win with two strikeouts in the third inning . … Nighthawks pitching coach Tom Hudon has missed the first few games with the flu. … Announced attendance at Maxfield was 517 for Sunday’s contest, one day after the Nighthawks set a franchise record with 967 against the Muskrats.

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