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Upper Valley Nighthawks spilt doubleheader with North Adams

  • Upper Valley pitcher Alex Theis fields the ball he overthrew from catcher Raphael Pelletier (not shown) to tag out North Adams' Brandon Hylton in the fourth inning to preserve their lead in the first game of their double header in White River Junction, Vt., on June 25, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A spectator ducks as Upper Valley's Gehrig Anglin pursues a foul fly ball along the third baseline in the first game of their double header in White River Junction, Vt., on June 25, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Upper Valley's Parker Haskin takes a moment at the plate while up to bat against North Adams in the first game of their double header in White River Junction, Vt., on June 25, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • North Adams' Matt Shilling dives back to first ahead of the throw to Upper Valley's William Sullivan in the first game of their double header in White River Junction, Vt., on June 25, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/25/2021 9:55:03 PM
Modified: 6/25/2021 9:55:13 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Just when it seemed like the Upper Valley Nighthawks were going to continue their streak of finding ways to lose games, they found a way to win one.

In game one of their seven-inning doubleheader against the North Adams SteepleCats at Maxfield Sports Complex on Friday, the Nighthawks emerged with a 4-3 win. The SteepleCats stormed back in game two for a 7-0 victory and a split of the twinbill.

The first game was tied, 3-3, in the bottom of the sixth, when right fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) hit a clutch home run to right field to put the Nighthawks ahead to stay. Roden received a warm welcome in the Upper Valley dugout after circling the bases with his first home run of the season.

“I got a good pitch to hit, and I was able to put a good swing on it,” Roden said. “I was just happy that I was able to do that. I was just happy to put a good swing on it.”

The Nighthawks (9-7) had lost three of their previous four games, and basically all the losses were in similar fashion as this win: one swing of the bat, or one or two plays in the field, made the difference.

After a strong three-inning start by Jackson Haga (Liberty) — he gave up just one hit and two walks and struck out five hitters — the game looked to be turning against Upper Valley once again.

Alex Theis (Wright State) took the mound in relief with a 3-0 lead, and he struggled. He hit the first batter he faced — one of two HBPs in his one inning of work — and was largely unable to command his pitches. He gave up a two-run double in the fourth to SteepleCats designated hitter Brandon Hylton (Stetson), then loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth.

But despite the momentum shifting, Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid said his team didn’t feel any déjà vu.

“Before the game, we had a team meeting, and I kind of brought that up to the guys. We can’t get into that mindset,” Devoid said. “I think we kind of were doing that in the past. And I think today, hopefully, we got a step forward and got rid of that mindset, and we’re ready to rock and roll.”

Zane Kmietek (Marist) took over the difficult situation from the bullpen and performed effective damage control. The tying run scored on a fielder’s choice, but Kmietek induced a fly out and ground out to strand two SteepleCat runners.

Devoid called Kmietek’s performance awesome.

“Another big moment that we kind of weren’t getting in the last few games, and we got them in one game today,” Devoid said. “So hopefully we didn’t use them all in one game. But that was big for him, and I’m proud of him to come in and do that in that situation.”

The Nighthawks scored their first three runs in the third inning. Left fielder Andrew Walker (Xavier) picked up an RBI on a ground out that scored shortstop Luca Trigiani (St. Joseph’s). Two batters later, third baseman Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to left-center field.

Designated hitter Parker Haskin (Elon) chipped in a double. Each of the Nighthawks’ seven hits came from a different player.

Henry Leake (Boston College) closed the game out for the Nighthawks. The tying run did reach first base on a hard ground ball back to the mound that hit Leake, but the Nighthawks turned a game-ending double play on the next at-bat.

Game two was not as kind to Upper Valley. North Adams pitchers Kaleb Sophy (Shippensburg) and Luke Benneche (Lafayette) blanked the Nighthawks — the first time they’ve been shut out all season. The Nighthawks accrued seven hits, and they loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but they came up empty.

On the mound for the Nighthawks, starting pitcher Cameron Bye (Wichita State) kept them in the game. He gave up two earned runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts in five innings. Jack Keenan (Marist) pitched one inning in relief, surrendering one unearned run on one hit.

Outfielder and pitcher Brett Callahan, who played center field in game one, took over in the seventh inning, and the Nighthawks made two defensive substitutions and shifted positions for four players. The Steeplecats (6-7-2) put the game away there with four runs. Shortstop Thomas Gavello (Pacific) hit a two-run double, and right fielder Charles Middleton (Pacific) followed him with a two-run single.

Upper Valley designated hitter Kyle Novak (James Madison) finished 2-for-4 with a double. Third baseman Ronald Evans (UNC Wilmington) also posted a multi-hit game with two singles.

The Nighthawks’ next action comes on Saturday against the Vermont Mountaineers at Recreation Field in Montpelier. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.


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