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Speedy Anglin lets legs do the talking for Nighthawks

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks' Gehrig Anglin loses his hat while chasing a hit during their game with the Keene Swamp Bats on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in White River Junction, 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
Published: 7/13/2019 10:17:20 PM
Modified: 7/13/2019 10:24:44 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Gehrig Anglin is a something of a silent assassin for this season’s Upper Valley Nighthawks.

Anglin — yes, he’s named for 1930s baseball legend Lou Gehrig and wears his No. 4, too — definitely is on the quieter side; he won’t say much when you try to nail him down. But ask others about him around the Maxfield Sports Complex and it’s clear just how important he has become for a team in a race for one of the three playoff spots in the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Northern Division.

The soft-spoken sophomore from Wright State is one of the more unique offensive weapons in the NECBL.

“I didn’t know he was this fast,” Upper Valley president Noah Crane said. “I thought he thought he was going to hit for a little more power because of his size. We haven’t seen that, but who cares? Just hit doubles and singles. For him, a single for him and he’s on third base. It might as well be a triple.”

Added Nighthawks head coach Keller Bradford: “He’s our clutch guy. … I think getting him in the lineup every day, having him seeing reps every day, has helped him get locked in. At first, he wasn’t playing every day. He’s rolling.”

Anglin’s uniqueness comes largely from his speed.

For three weeks he led the NECBL in stolen bases, and he entered the weekend second behind Winnipesaukee’s Jake Coro with 20 swiped bags in 26 games. But that speed — and a .434 on-base percentage — has carved out a regular spot atop Upper Valley’s lineup.

“I think he just understands himself as a player,” Upper Valley catcher Anthony Quirion said. “Not a lot of guys are at that maturation. He understands what he contributes to the team. He doesn’t try to do too much. For stealing bags, he goes when he knows he has it. Most of the time, he’s right.”

Anglin has speed to his — and the Nighthawks’ — advantage in almost every game he’s played this summer. Take the eight-inning 4-3 win over New Bedford on July 7 in the second game of a doubleheader as an example. With the Nighthawks down, 3-2, in the seventh, Anglin singled, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on Cole Frederick’s two-out single to force extra innings.

“He’s a guy who, because of his speed, he puts pressure on defenses,” Crane said. “You saw it in the extra-inning game. ... That’s the sort of stuff that he brings — even if he doesn’t get a hit, he’s probably going to score because he’s so fast.”

Stealing bases, Anglin said, is a special art, something he honed in his freshman season with at Wright State.

“In high school, I started training on my speed a little bit,” Anglin said. “Once I got to Wright State, that’s when they started to really teach me how to steal bases the way we do. At school, they really honed my stealing-bases skills.

“It gets you an extra 90 feet all the time. If you do that successfully a lot, it puts you in a better position to score.”

Anglin, from East China, Mich., was batting .281 with 25 hits and 21 runs scored in 26 games this summer entering the weekend. He led the Nighthawks with 20 walks, was second behind teammate and NECBL batting leader Frederick with 15 RBIs and was tied with Dan Bolt — another staple in the Nighthawks’ lineup — for the team lead in runs scored with 21.

“Two first pitches, and he’s on second,” Quirion said. “It’s fun. For us, it puts us in a good position as hitters. With one pitch, he’s in scoring position. It’s an RBI chance for us. We love it.”

Anglin was competing for a consistent spot in the outfield in early June. Now it’s become nearly impossible for Bradford to take him out of the lineup, be it at leadoff or No. 2 in the batting order.

“You can’t (take him out),” Crane said. “He’s a spark plug.”

It was a rough spring for Anglin at Wright State, one that saw him play just 25 games with four starts. He saw only 15 at-bats but managed to score eight runs with six hits and three doubles. He also stole a base in his one attempt.

“Obviously, you want to play,” Anglin said. “But at the same time, you have to accept the fact that you’re going behind guys who are going in the MLB draft. … I had a lot of upperclassmen to look up to. We were pretty loaded. I’m grateful I got play along with those guys.”

Anglin is the kind of player Crane has a special talent for finding, an athlete with something to prove, sitting behind upperclassmen on a deep and talented roster, waiting for a chance to get consistent at-bats. What the Nighthawks president got instead surprised him: a reliable athlete with a knack for clutch hits and a bit of unexpected speed on the bases.

“He was a guy you really just didn’t know,” Crane said. “His coaches love him; he was playing behind some really impressive people on a strong team, so he didn’t play as much. I think he, as a competitor, was upset about that. Now he gets an opportunity to play everyday. He’s showing us and his coaches that, ‘Hey, I should be in the lineup.’

“It’s great for him. That’s what this is about, a guy like that who comes in hungry, maybe a little angry, and he’s getting opportunities here to play every day. He’s taking advantage of it.”

With the Nighthawks, Anglin has been able to thrive with the at-bats for which he’s been waiting. It’s worked out for everyone involved: The team has been rewarded with an important piece in a playoff run, and Anglin has put himself in a much better position with another year of Wright State on the horizon.

“I’ll go back to school next year, and I’ll be ready to contribute,” Anglin said. “I think (this summer) just allows me to know that I’m capable of playing at this level.”

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




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