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Nighthawks notebook: Pitcher departs after losing scholarship

  • Cal Carver (18) of the Upper Valley Nighthawks poses for a portrait at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt., on Monday, June 3, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks have signed Easton Kirk, a former Wallace State Community College star and a Troy University commitment, to an NECBL contract. (Wallace State Community College photograph)

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks have signed Easton Kirk, a former Wallace State Community College star and a Troy University commitment, to an NECBL contract. (Wallace State Community College photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — College baseball, it seems, can be just as ruthless of a business as the professional ranks, with the former offering much less in compensation.

Cal Carver, a left-handed pitcher for the Upper Valley Nighthawks, left the New England Collegiate Baseball League team this week after losing his scholarship at Wichita State University.

The Shockers fired head baseball coach Todd Butler in late May and hired Eric Wedge, a WSU alumnus and former Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners manager, who returns to the program 30 years after leading its to a College World Series championship in 1989.

Carver found out earlier this week that his scholarship — and his spot on the team — would not be continued under Wichita State’s new coaches. He has left the Upper Valley to search for other opportunities.

Such is the business of collegiate baseball, Upper Valley head coach Keller Bradford said on Tuesday. New coaches want to put their stamp on their team early, oftentimes at the expense of less-established underclassmen.

“He wants to bring his own guys in there,” Bradford said. “If there is any question with a young guy, especially freshmen and sophomores, he’ll let those guys go and keep the older guys.

“It’s tough, especially when a team (Wichita State) is not very good. It’d be different if they had won 35 games and a coach moved on to a better school. But whenever a coach gets let go or whatever happens, it’s pretty common for the new guy to come in and try to recreate some culture and put some new guys in place.”

Carver, a sophomore from San Antonio, struggled early in his short time with the Nighthawks, but had settled down in recent appearances. He leaves the team with a 4.50 ERA in five games, with one start, and six innings pitched. His line: eight walks, four hits, three runs and six strikeouts.

His last three outings — an inning each — were clean: no hits, runs or walks with two strikeouts against 11 batters faced. He took the loss in his Nighthawks debut against the Vermont Mountaineers on June 7.

He also was the Nighthawks’ only left-handed pitcher when he joined the squad in early June. Upper Valley has since signed Bradley University lefty Brooks Gosswein to give pitching coach Mike Coss another option.

Bradford still hopes Carver can come back to the team at some point this summer.

“It’s a really tough situation, but I think he’s been optimistic through it,” Bradford said. “He came to me, reached out to me and told me what he was thinking. I was able to reach out to some coaches. He possibly has some options opening up, whether it’s juco (junior college) or somewhere else.

“I’m hoping he’s able to come back up here whenever he is able to sign somewhere. He wants to. He wants to come back.”

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Hawks Sign Troy Commit: The Nighthawks are adding more offensive power later this week.

Upper Valley has signed Easton Kirk, a former Wallace State Community College star and a Troy University commitment, to an NECBL contract. He is scheduled to join the team on Friday.

Kirk, a Piedmont, Ala., native, was named a National Junior College Athletic Association Division I third-team All-American earlier this month. He led the Alabama Community College Conference in all three major offensive categories: .480 batting average, 18 home runs and 64 RBIs. He also was named the 2019 ACCC Player of the Year.

“Some pop, some power,” Bradford said when asked what Kirk adds to the lineup. “I don’t think by any means we’re missing any pop in our lineup. We haven’t hit a lot of home runs; our thing has been the stolen base. That’s been great; I want to keep doing that. But it’d be nice to bring someone in who moves a ball or two.”

Kirk is listed as a first baseman and catcher, though Bradford said he foresees the slugger slotting into the Upper Valley lineup at first base. Anthony Quirion (Lamar) and Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) also have seen time at first this season; Kirk, Bradford said, gives the team a more permanent option.

“We’re excited to get him,” Bradford said. “I think he’s going to fit right in. He’ll fit into our lineup very quickly.”

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Frederick Recognized: Nighthawks third baseman Cole Frederick was named NECBL Hitter of the Week earlier this week after tearing up the league in his first eight games.

Frederick, a junior from Jacksonville (Ala.) State University, currently leads the league with a .500 batting average, compiling 17 hits, three doubles, one home run, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored in his first two weeks with the club. He is on a seven-game hitting streak, only going without a hit in his season debut against the Mountaineers on June 12. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native batted .287 in 61 games at Jacksonville State this spring.

Frederick will look to extend his hitting streak when Upper Valley hosts Keene at the Maxfield Sports Complex at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s trip to New Bedford (Mass.) was rained out, the team’s sixth postponement in 16 game dates this season.

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