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Big Keene inning dooms Nighthawks at Maxfield

  • Nighthawks second baseman Kyle Novak grabs a ground ball while Keene's David Bryant slides into second during their game on Friday, June 18, 2021, in White River Junction, Vt. Nighthawks shortstop Max Viera is at right. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/18/2021 11:23:02 PM
Modified: 6/18/2021 11:23:12 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Things just didn’t go the Upper Valley Nighthawks’ way Friday.

Costly errors, bad luck on batted balls and opponent hits that found gaps plagued Upper Valley in its 11-7 NECBL loss to the Keene Swamp Bats at Maxfield Sports Complex.

The Nighthawks (7-4) rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the game was decided in the top of the eighth. The Swamp Bats (5-5) racked up seven runs that inning, putting the Nighthawks away for good.

“We took a little bit to score, and I think it was just too late,” Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid said. “But guys are still having good approaches at the plate, hitting the ball hard. So we have some good things to move forward with.”

The Swamp Bats got runners on second and third to start the eighth. After a strikeout, the Nighthawks opted to intentionally walk Keene’s next batter to set up a force out at home plate or a potential inning-ending double play.

Instead, Nighthawks pitcher Cole Garrett (Liberty) walked in the tying run. He was then pulled for Henry Leake (Boston College), who faced trouble right away, giving up a two-run single on his first pitch out of the bullpen.

The Swamp Bats scored another on a single in the next at-bat. Then, after a strikeout, they tacked on two more runs on a triple, and the 11th run arrived on a balk.

Devoid said that inning was discouraging after coming back to take the lead in the seventh.

“Kind of knocks the wind out of you a little bit,” Devoid said. “We definitely fought really hard in the bottom of the seventh to get those runs, a couple steals and good hits.”

Center fielder Brett Callahan (St. Joseph’s) hit two home runs for the Nighthawks. They occurred in completely different game situations.

The first came in the bottom of the seventh, when he hit a line drive that got over the right-field wall for a two-run shot. That cut Upper Valley’s deficit to 4-3.

The second came in the bottom of the eighth, after the disastrous top half of the inning put the Nighthawks behind by six.

“The first one, I was really pumped up. I thought we were going to win,” Callahan said. “Second one, yeah, I wasn’t quite as (excited). It was a rough inning before that.”

Andrew Walker (Xavier) also finished with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a double and a single. First baseman Will Sullivan (Troy) had a key RBI single in the seventh that tied the game. He then stole second, and the catcher’s throw to try and catch him stealing allowed right fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) to score the go-ahead run to make it 5-4.

Jace Kaminska (Wichita State) started on the mound for the Nighthawks. He threw four innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts. Nick Cantone (Marist) pitched 2⅓ innings in relief, surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits with one strikeout.

Despite the loss, Devoid was pleased that his team kept fighting, even while facing a large deficit late. Though results are never meaningless for him, he said the effort and the overall positive trajectory he saw as the game progressed is more important for him early in the season.

“We’ve got a lot of games left,” Devoid said. “Guys are finding barrels, just right at people. (Keene) made some really nice plays in the outfield. Like I said, a couple things fall different ways, it’s a different game, and that’s just how baseball works. We just gotta come back Sunday and keep having good approaches at the plate and throwing strikes.”

The Nighthawks are back in action Sunday on the road against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats.

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


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