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Nighthawks upend another top team

  • Anthony Quirion (20) of the Upper Valley Nighthawks poses for a portrait at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt., on Monday, June 3, 2019. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/10/2019 10:04:53 PM
Modified: 7/10/2019 10:08:36 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Upper Valley Nighthawks don’t seem to take games against the top teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for granted. It’s a different story against the league’s basement-dwellers.

The pattern continued against the NECBL Northern Division-leading North Adams SteepleCats on Wednesday night, a 8-7 win off of an Anthony Quirion (Lamar) sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.

Aaron Haase shut the door in the final 1⅓ innings, striking out the side in the ninth after a leadoff error at the Maxfield Sports Complex to help the Nighthawks improve to 16-11 overall.

The win temporarily put Upper Valley in second place in the North, 1½ games behind the SteepleCats (16-8) in the standings. The Keene Swamp Bats, in third place, dropped game one of its doubleheader with the Winnipesaukee Muskrats on Wednesday; the Vermont Mountaineers, in fourth, improved to 15-12 with a win over the Sanford.

The Nighthawks are 8-3 against teams in playoff contention this summer after they snapped North Adams’ five-game win streak. They are 6-4 against the league’s bottom four teams, with two losses to both the Sanford Mainers (9-17) and Northern Division cellar-dwelling Winnipesaukee Muskrats (7-16).

The Nighthawks travel to Cardines Field on Friday for a game against the Newport Gulls.

“I think our guys like a challenge,” Upper Valley head coach Keller Bradford said. “It seems like whenever we go play teams that are maybe aren’t winning as many games as us, we play down to our competition. Whenever we play teams that we know are really good, we play our best baseball.”

Added Quirion, who caught against North Adams: “I just think we take our level play just a tad bit higher. We knew we had a good pitcher, we faced him earlier in the year. We had to lock in and I just think we raise the level play and match who we’re playing. It works out well.”

Wednesday’s game was a back-and-forth contest throughout.

Anthony Quirion (Lamar) opened the scoring in the second inning on a wild pitch by North Adams starting pitcher Mason Ronan, giving Upper Valley a 1-0 lead.

Skylar Pichardo (Marist) was solid in his second start of the summer for Upper Valley, allowing just three hits with two strikeouts in the first three innings of a scheduled bullpen day for the Nighthawks.

Jordy Allard (Babson) took over in the fourth, giving up a two-run single to the SteepleCats’ Sam Punzi in the fourth to give North Adams a lead, 2-1.

But Upper Valley rallied with six runs over the next two innings and took a 7-3 lead into the seventh. In the fifth, Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) hit a bases-clearing double with no outs and the bases loaded and Easton Kirk (Troy) added an RBI double. In the sixth, Anglin and Cole Frederick (Jacksonville State) hit RBI singles to build a four-run lead.

“I think getting (Anglin) in the lineup every day, getting reps every single day, helped him get locked in,” Bradford said. “At first, he wasn’t playing every day. … Now he’s playing every day. He’s just kind of rolling.”

North Adams answered with five runs on five hits over the next three innings against Upper Valley relievers Corley Woods (Jacksonville State) and Henry Gladson (Notre Dame) to tie the game, 7-7. Scout Knotts tied the game in the eighth with a leadoff home run versus Gladson, who lasted 1⅔ innings.

In the bottom of the eighth, back-to-back singles by Anglin and Frederick and a flyout by Kirk put Upper Valley runners on second and third base for Quirion, whose sac fly brought the game-winner home.

“The first thing you have to do is stop digging,” said Quirion, who is on a five-game hitting streak after going 0-for-10. “You have to come in with a positive attitude and it’ll break out eventually.”

In the ninth, Nighthawks closer Aaron Haase (Wichita State) struck out three consecutive batters after a leadoff error put the tying run on base. Haase, who got the win, leads the NECBL with five saves, and is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 appearances this season.

“He’s our guy,” Bradford said of Haase. “Every team has to have their guy that they trust at the back of their bullpen. … If we’re going to get beat, we’re going to get beat with our best. That’s Haase.”

Anglin finished the game 3-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs. Frederick was 3-for-5 with an RBI and Quirion was 1-for-2 with two walks, a run scored and the game-winning RBI.

Pitching is still a problem for this team, but newcomers are on their way. Jeff Costello, the outfielder from Northeastern, made his Nighthawks debut in Wednesday’s win, going 1-for-4 with a walk. Pitchers Kellen Spann (West Alabama) and Taylor Gibson (Spring Hill CC) are set to join the team later this week.

“We are thin on arms right now,” Bradford said. “We used everybody we had tonight to get through it. But we have new arms coming in, that’s going to help us out a whole lot. I’m not really worried about it.”

Jordan DiValerio, the Upper Valley ace from St. Joseph’s, is scheduled to start against the Gulls. Will Carnley (Troy) should start against the Valley Blue Sox at home on Saturday. The Nighthawks finish the week traveling to Winnipesaukee on Sunday afternoon.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at or 603-727-3306. 

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