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Glad to be wrong: Nighthawks All-Star DiValerio has something to prove

  • Wearing a swan tube the Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jordan DiValerio waits with teammates for the start of their game on Friday, June 21, 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.

  • Wearing a swan tube the Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jordan DiValerio high-fives teammates during their game against Vermont on Friday, June 21, 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
Saturday, June 22, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Jordan DiValerio wasn’t expecting a return to the Upper Valley Nighthawks. If anything, it was his third option — Plan C — the one he would take if all didn’t go as plan.

Now that he’s back, DiValerio has something to prove: that everyone had him wrong.

The St. Joseph’s University right-handed pitcher returned to the Upper Valley and re-joined the New England Collegiate Baseball League club early last week, one year after a summer stint with the Nighthawks that had him named a 2018 NECBL All-Star. He was one of Upper Valley’s strongest pitchers last year, pitching a team-high 38⅔ innings for a 3-1 record to go with a 2.56 ERA and 34 strikeouts, second on the team.

DiValerio turned a strong summer into a productive spring at St. Joseph’s: a 5-5 record and a 3.80 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 19 walks in 73⅓ innings. It was enough to get him noticed by Major League Baseball scouts; he was told to, at some point, be expecting a call from a MLB team at some point earlier this month saying that he had been taken in the 2019 MLB draft.

When the dust settled and the Draft had completed, DiValerio had been left off the list.

So much for Plan A.

Then, more bad news. DiValerio had been scheduled to join the Cape Cod League’s Wareham Gatemen if he wasn’t taken in the draft. When he called the Gatemen in preparation to join the squad, DiValerio found out his spot on the roster had been taken.

There went Plan B.

Luckily, the Nighthawks were still looking for pitchers. He had kept in contact with Upper Valley president Noah Crane throughout the year; a return, DiValerio said, made sense.

“I’m kind of surprised to be here based on the year I had and based on what the scouts were telling me. I was expecting to go (in the draft),” DiValerio said before Friday’s game against the Vermont Mountaineers at the Maxfield Sports Complex.

“Everything happens for a reason. This might just be the best situation that could have happened.”

“I had remained in contact with Noah ever since last summer. He really wanted me back. I was happy to be able to come back.”

Doesn’t mean he isn’t entering this summer with a slight chip on his shoulder.

DiValerio’s first start of the season for the Nighthawks was a solid one: six innings, two hits and five strikeouts in a 9-5 win on the road against the Ocean State Waves last weekend. The St. Joseph’s senior got the win on 71 pitchers, 47 of which were thrown for strikes.

He’s next scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the NECBL Northern Division-leading North Adams SteepleCats.

“(Wareham’s) head coach (Jerry Weinstein) thought I was getting drafted. I also thought I was getting drafted; I was told I was getting drafted by several teams. It didn’t pan out,” DiValerio said. “Then, by the time the draft was over, they had given my spot away.”

He pitched in nine games, three starts, for Upper Valley last season.

“Last summer was a big growing year for me,” he said. “I really developed a changeup, which I hadn’t really had. I perfected my splitter. I basically learned how to pitch; there’s a lot better competition up here than they have in the (Atlantic 10 Conference, where St. Joseph’s plays)”.

Through the season’s first few weeks, DiValerio has emerged as something of a leader in the Upper Valley bullpen. He’s introduced blow-up animals to the team: he wears a swan around his waist, nicknamed by his teammates the “Rally Swan.” He also has brought back a pair of inflatable cows that were part of the team’s bullpen last summer.

But DiValerio admitted this summer is, once again, a big moment for his career: he’s got scouts to prove wrong and a Cape Cod coach to show just what he missed out on. A St. Joseph’s righty with an edge is exactly what almost the Nighthawks were hoping for when they brought DiValerio back.

“It’s great to be back.” he said. “I’m very comfortable with the area, the fans. I’m just happy I can come and, hopefully, help the team win.”

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