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Nighthawks notes: Returning Hawk glad to have a second chance

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks’ Alvin Melendez. (Fordham University photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/27/2019 9:53:00 PM
Modified: 7/27/2019 9:52:58 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — A return to the Upper Valley was a little different for Alvin Melendez. At least his Upper Valley Nighthawks teammates from last summer who returned to the team this season — Anthony Quirion, Jordan DiValerio, Greg Hardison — all were able to get a full summer of work in last year. Melendez wasn’t as lucky.

It also means his return to the squad, in the heart of a desperate run for the NECBL playoffs, comes with an added bonus: to take care of some unfinished business.

“Last year was kind of weird. I came and left and then I went home for the rest of the summer,” Melendez said on Thursday. “It was kind of like, there was a gap. It felt extremely unfinished. It sucks to end a summer that way, but at least we’re here now.”

Melendez, a Whitestone, N.Y. native and upcoming senior at Fordham University, had his summer cut short after a pitch drilled his hand during a game against the Danbury Westerners in late June. The injury turned out to be a broken wrist, forcing Melendez to go home and heal before school ball started in the fall.

He was one of the eight Nighthawks who where forced home midseason due to injuries or departures last year, an exodus that caused Upper Valley to miss the NECBL playoffs for the first time in its brief history.

Melendez said he had been in contact with Upper Valley president Noah Crane since the spring, but decided to spend his summer at home resting and putting on some muscle before his senior year. It took two months away from the game before the competitive itch returned, Melendez said. He re-signed with the Nighthawks two weeks ago and joined the squad last weekend.

“I pretty much took the summer to try and gain some weight, work on my tools,” Melendez said. “Just get stronger really. And also get better mentally, take a break from it a little bit. When Noah called, I thought it was the perfect time. Get a few at-bats before school.

“At some point you start to get a little impatient. At first, you’re having fun and then I started to just get bored. I’m working out then going home and doing nothing.”

Melendez — a speedy outfielder — fills a relatively large void created by some late-season departures. With Dan Bolt (Bradley) and Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) gone, the Fordham product can fit right in near the top of the Upper Valley lineup — and play in an outfield that is suddenly searching for consistency.

“I thought it was perfect,” he said. “Not too many games left but also, like, if I’m going to come back somewhere it’s nice to come back here.”

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A New York connection: Jake Knop, like Melendez, was sitting home doing pretty much nothing this summer. He was working to make some money, working out in the weight room, taking a mental break from the grind of collegiate baseball. Then the call came in from his head coach at Manhattan College that the Nighthawks might need his services.

“It seemed kind of weird because it was so late in the season,” Knop said. “But I’ll take any opportunity I can to play.”

Knop, an infielder from Portland, Maine, gives the Nighthawks a little bit of depth in its infield — a solidified unit for most of the summer that’s gone through some changes with the departure of Troy University’s first baseman Easton Kirk. Knop said he’s excited to join the squad in the midst of a playoff race.

“I haven’t had a live at-bat since college,” he said. “My first time out there, we’ll see how it goes.”

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The magical cheesesteak: Nighthawks catcher Andrew Cossetti is from Norristown, Pa., a suburb northwest of downtown Philadelphia. He’s turned his season around in the last few weeks, becoming one of the more dangerous hitters in the Upper Valley lineup, and it may be due to a Philadelphia delicacy.

“My mom actually visited about a week ago and she brought up cheesesteak stuff so she could cook it in the oven. She brought up rolls,” Cossetti said on the latest episode of the Valley News Hawks Talk podcast. “I kind of credited her with hitting that home runs (two against the Danbury Westerners on July 16), because of the cheesesteaks.”

Cossetti, who goes to St. Joseph’s, also gave the inside scoop on teammate Jordan DiValerio’s pregame meals; on his twin brother at the U.S. Naval Academy and who would win in a wrestling match; and one of his weirdest experiences behind home plate.

“Some guys do talk to themselves (when they’re up to bat),” Cossetti said. “There was one guy, it was really funny, I forget who we were playing during school ball. He would sing a song to himself when he was hitting. I guess it relaxed him. I was sitting back there catching. Me and umpire back there got a full concert.”

Check out the episode at www.vnews.com: https://www.vnews.com/Hawks-Talk-Podcast-Season-4-Episode-6-featuring-Andrew-Cossetti-27294453.

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




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