Nighthawks split doubleheader against Winni Muskrats

  • Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid, right, and pitching coach Chad Sturgeon watch pitcher Jace Kaminska warm up before the start of their game with Keene on Friday, June 18, 2021, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/1/2021 10:09:54 PM
Modified: 8/1/2021 10:09:56 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Upper Valley Nighthawks finished their regular season by splitting a doubleheader against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats Sunday at Maxfield Sports Complex.

Both games finished 3-2 — the Muskrats won game one, and the Nighthawks took game two.

The Nighthawks (23-18) entered the game with 117 total stolen bases as a team, one shy of the single-season NECBL record. They tied and broke that record in the third inning of game one. Left fielder Andrew Walker (Xavier) stole third base to tie the record, and he scored on an RBI single by second baseman Max Viera (Northeastern) to put Upper Valley ahead 1-0. Viera promptly stole second base to break the steals record.

Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid entered the season intending to be aggressive on the basepaths, and he stuck to that plan. The Nighthawks have the top two base-stealers in the NECBL, outfielder Alan Roden (Creighton) at 28 and Walker at 25. They also have three of the top four, with Viera in fourth at 22.

“It’s pretty cool,” Devoid said. “We got some guys who love to run and want to take extra bags. We’ve got guys who get good jumps, and it’s really exciting to watch them play and steal a lot of bases.”

Meanwhile, Cade Lommel (Creighton) was pitching well for the Nighthawks, but they didn’t give him enough run support. Lommel held the Muskrats (14-26) scoreless through four innings, but he couldn’t escape some trouble in the fifth. He gave up a three-run home run to Muskrats right fielder Josh Rodriguez (Rutgers), which was the difference in the game. Muskrats starting pitcher Justin Murray (Dartmouth) kept the Nighthawks quiet. He threw a seven-inning complete game, allowing two earned runs on five hit and two walks with six strikeouts.

Upper Valley had some chances throughout the game, but left runners on base in key situations.

Game two was seemingly headed in a similar situation, until Nighthawks third baseman Gehrig Anglin crushed a walk-off home run to left field. He was mobbed by his teammates as he crossed home plate.

“(It) feels amazing,” Anglin said. “Just (to) get the dub for my team, send the boys home so we don’t have to go into extras, (it) felt good.”

But Devoid knew the offensive struggles were an issue in game two despite the outcome. The Nighthawks left nine runners on base in the seven-inning game. They stranded the bases loaded twice, including the third inning, when they had bases loaded and no outs and didn’t score.

Devoid said the rainouts during the week contributed to some players going cold. Because of rainouts on Tuesday and Thursday, the Nighthawks went four days without seeing live pitching.

But he added that his team needs to put together better at-bats.

“It’s been tough sledding the last co upl e days (driving in) some runs in key situations,” Devoid said. “Even though I like aggressive at-bats (and) trying to get a good hit ahead in the count, we’ve just been getting behind in the count the last few games. And then we’re just (striking out) a lot. That puts a lot of pressure on you when you get down two strikes.”

Jack Keenan (Marist) gave the Nighthawks a strong start in the second game. He threw five shutout innings, surrendering two hits and four walks with two strikeouts. The Nighthawks led 2-0 when he departed, scoring on a steal of home and an RBI single by designated hitter Will Sullivan (Troy). Winnipesaukee tied the game in the sixth against Nighthawks reliever Nick Cantone (Marist).

But despite the blemishes, and starting to lose some players — Sullivan and catcher Raphael Pelletier (Kansas State) left the Nighthawks after Sunday’s games — Devoid feels his team is in a good spot heading into the postseason.

“We’ve got some pitchers lined up for the middle of the week next week, which is great. And I thought our pitchers have done a good job the last few games,” Devoid said. “I think the only spot right now that is struggling is the offense. But we have a very strong offense and a lot of guys who can compete and get some hits. So I’m sure that’ll happen soon.”

The Nighthawks begin postseason play with a seeding game against the North Adams SteepleCats on Monday at 6 p.m. at Maxfield Sports Complex. The winner will be the No. 2 seed in the Northern Division playoffs.

Seth Tow can be reached at

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