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Nighthawks fashion another twinbill split

  • Sanford's Freddy Rojas Jr. is congratulated at home plate by teammate Ryan Turenne after Rojas' solo home run in the seventh inning to put the Mainers ahead. At right is Nighthawks catcher Raphael Pelletier. Sanford won the first game of the double-header 3-2 in White River Junction, Vt., on July 5, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Upper Valley first baseman William Sullivan fields a throw from pitcher Alex Theis (not pictured) on a slow grounder from Sanford's Pierce Gallo (4) in the third inning of their game in White River Junction, Vt., on July 5, 2021. The Mainers won the first game of the doubleheader, 3-2. (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 Ronald Evans is called safe stealing second base after Sanford's Martin Higgins bobbled the tag in the fourth inning of their game in White River Junction, Vt., on July 5, 2021. The Mainers won the first game of the doubleheader, 3-2. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

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Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2021 9:23:13 PM
Modified: 7/5/2021 9:23:56 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION After four days off, thanks to rainouts on Friday and Saturday, the Upper Valley Nighthawks returned to action Monday.

The Nighthawkssplit a doubleheader with the Sanford Mainers at Maxfield Sports Complex. The Mainers took game one, 3-2, and the Nighthawks won the second contest, 7-4. This is the third consecutive doubleheader that the Nighthawks have split.

The first game was tied at two going into the seventh (and final) inning when Mainers right fielder Freddy Rojas Jr. (Texas Rio Grande Valley) led off the frame with a long home run to dead center field off Nighthawks reliever Henry Leake (Boston College). Rojas took a few moments to admire his work before rounding the bases.

But despite the late home run, Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid attributed the loss to offensive struggles. The Nighthawks (13-9) outhit the Mainers (6-14) in the game, 8-5, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances. Upper Valley left runners on base in six innings.

“I think we had opportunities,” Devoid said. “We have, I feel like, nine guys in the lineup who can get one pitch and give us one run. So I feel like we had opportunities. We just couldn’t get guys in and get hits in hitter’s counts.”

Upper Valley’s eight hits came from eight different players. Infielder Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) had a double, the Nighthawks’ lone extra-base hit. Center fielder Brett Callahan (St. Joseph’s) and right fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) picked up the Upper Valley RBIs.

Devoid noticed a little rust from his offense after the rain-induced layoff.

“Just getting back out there and seeing live pitching after four days is tough,” Devoid said. “We got in some hitter’s counts but just kind of gave them easy outs. So we gotta be harder to get out.”

Alex Theis (Wright State) started strong on the mound for the Nighthawks. He cruised through his first three innings, racking up five strikeouts while allowing just two baserunners.

Theis gave up a single to start the inning, but the runner was caught stealing second by catcher Raphael Pelletier (Kansas State). After the next Sanford batter flew out, Theis seemed headed for a fourth clean inning. But that’s where the trouble began.

The Mainers put together three long at-bats and loaded the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Devoid pulled Theis for Cole Garrett (Liberty), who surrendered a two-RBI single that gave Sanford a 2-1 lead.

Devoid was still pleased with Theis’ performance.

“We wanted three (innings) out of him. For him to go out and battle there in the fourth was pretty good,” Devoid said. “He was locating his pitches better and throwing strikes, so it’s good momentum for him moving forward. It’s too bad the way that he had to come out.”

Jackson Haga (Liberty) took over for Garrett at the beginning of the fifth inning, and he threw two scoreless innings and allowed only one hit. Upper Valley did get the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t bring it home.

In game two, the Nighthawks moved past their earlier offensive woes.

They trailed, 4-2, after the top of the third but put up four runs in the bottom half to take the lead for good. Anglin had a two-run single with the bases loaded to tie the game. First baseman Will Sullivan (Troy) gave the Nighthawks the lead on an RBI single. Shortstop Luca Trigiani (St. Joseph’s) drove in Anglin on a sacrifice fly.

Roden enjoyed a big game two, going 4-for-4 with a double, one RBI and two runs. Left fielder Andrew Walker (Xavier) went 2-for-4 with two runs. Anglin and Sullivan also recorded multi-hit games.

Jack Keenan (Marist) got the start on the mound, and he struggled. He lasted 2⅓ innings, surrendering four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Jake Gigliotti (Northeastern) relieved Keenan in the third after Rojas hit a doubled to give Sanford a 3-2 lead, and he inherited runners on second and third and one out. One run, charged to Keenan, scored on a wild pitch, but Gigliotti otherwise worked out of the jam.

Cameron Bye (Wichita State) took the ball from there, and he put the Nighthawks in position to win. Bye threw four no-hit innings and allowed only two baserunners on a walk and an error for his first save.

The Nighthawks hit the road for their next game Wednesday at the Winnipesaukee Muskrats.

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


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