Nighthawks Deliver in Most Important Game This Season

Published: 7/27/2016 12:01:55 AM

Montpelier — If momentum leads the Upper Valley Nighthawks to a Northern Division playoff spot in the final week of the regular season, then St. Joseph’s Brian Lau will be remembered as their season’s savior.

Lau, normally the Nighthawks closer but playing catcher on Tuesday afternoon, drilled the first pitch he saw over the fence at the Vermont Mountaineers’ Recreation Field, kicking off a three-run rally in the top of the ninth inning to give the Nighthawks a 6-3 win over their in-state rivals. Al Molina, starting to turn his season around after struggling at the plate over the past six days, added a two-run bomb to seal the deal for Upper Valley.

The homer was Lau’s second hit of the season, his first since July 21 vs. Sanford.

“I thought it definitely had a chance to get down,” said Lau, who was 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts on Tuesday. “But once I saw the left-center fielder or whatever start slowing down, I said, ‘Oh, he’s going to catch it.’ Then (Nighthawks assistant coach Matt) Lynch started yelling so I said, ‘Oh, all right then.’ ”

Nighthawks head coach Nick Cenatiempo had his hands on his head as Lau, one of Upper Valley’s more dominant relievers, rounded the bases.

The victory helps the Nighthawks gain ground, putting Upper Vally in prime position to run for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NECBL’s Northern Division, held currently by the Mountaineers (17-20). The Nighthawks are now tied for fifth place with the Keene Swamp Bats (16-22), and are a game and a half behind Vermont for fourth.

Upper Valley is seven games behind the Northern Division leading Sanford Mainers (22-14), and will play Sanford at Goodall Park tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Nick Jones pitched five innings in relief of Nighthawks starter Houston Mabray, his longest outing of the year. The Kansas State sidearmer allowed only three hits, one walk and recorded three strikeouts for the victory.

“I’m definitely not used to going that long,” Jones said. “It definitely helps that I throw sidearm like I do. I don’t get too deep very often. I was ready to go a couple of more innings, too.

“I knew the bats would get going for us,” he added. “If I could just keep going out there and throwing up zeroes, I knew it was only a matter of time before we got the runs.”

Molina led the way offensively for the Nighthawks, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a home run. Charlie Concannon was 2-for-4 with an RBI. K.J. White, in his second game in a Nighthawks uniform, was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.

Upper Valley took the lead three times in the game, allowing Vermont to climb back and tie twice. In the fourth inning, James Morisano tied the game 1-1 with an RBI single to left field, allowing Joey Denison to score. Concannon followed it up with an RBI triple into deep center field, bringing home Morisano.

Molina helped the Nighthawks retake the lead in the fifth inning, an RBI single into center field that drove in White from second base.

“This was a huge win,” Cenatiempo said. “We came out, we played well after an off-day. It’s tough to get these guys going after an off-day. I thought we came out swinging the bats pretty well.”

Mabray, in his sixth start of the summer, allowed six hits, three earned runs and three walks in four innings on Tuesday. Jones leads the team with four saves and a 0.67 ERA.

“We’ve gotten hot at the right time, that’s for sure,” Jones said. “If we do end up doing well and making the playoffs I think we can do a lot of damage.”

GolfPelletier Ties 15th at Maine Open

Augusta, Maine — Lebanon High graduate and Hanover Country Club member Patrick Pelletier hit even in round two of Charlie’s Maine Open on Tuesday afternoon, finishing tied for 15th with 138 at Augusta Country Club’s par-140.

Pelletier ran into trouble in the seventh and eighth holes on Tuesday, hitting back-to-back bogeys to set him back. He made up for it later in the round, hitting birdies on the 13th and 16th holes. Pelletier finished five-strokes back of the leader, Ted Brown, who finished the Maine Open hitting seven-under-par, 133, for the victory. 

Pelletier will be in the New Hampshire Open at Owl’s Nest Resort and Golf Club in Thornton, N.H., starting today.

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