Little things propel Nighthawks past Maine, into share of first place

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/17/2021 8:00:22 AM
Modified: 7/17/2021 8:00:21 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Upper Valley Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid feels like his team has turned a corner this week.

There was a sizeable stretch of the season where the Nighthawks committed a lot of self-inflicted damage, whether it was errors, pitching mistakes or untimely offensive droughts. That hasn’t been the chase lately, nor was it on Friday night when Upper Valley beat the Sanford Mainers, 4-1, at Maxfield Sports Complex for their third straight NECBL win and fourth in five games.

In the Nighthawks’ doubleheader sweep of North Shore Thursday and Friday’s victory, they cleaned things up. And the Nighthawks (18-12) have erased the gap in the NECBL Northern Division standings and pulled even with the Keene Swamp Bats for first place.

“We hit a lull there for a little bit where we weren’t playing great, but we were still managing to squeak out a couple games. So to go back to the way that we were playing at the beginning (of the season), and play nine innings of good baseball, is really good,” Devoid said. “And I think it has the guys fired up. It gets me fired up.”

The Nighthawks rode an all-around strong pitching performance to success Friday. Starter Cade Lommel (Creighton) threw five innings and gave up one earned run on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Lommel worked out of jams in four of his five frames. The toughest one came in the fourth, when the Mainers (8-18) loaded the bases with no outs. Lommel induced a double play, allowing a run, and then a groundout to avoid further damage.

He said the key to getting out of trouble was staying confident and not letting the runners get into his head. He knew the double play was clutch.

“That was huge. When you have bases loaded and no outs, one run is usually the best situation possible,” Lommel said. “So that was awesome to get that.”

The Nighthawks took the lead in the third inning. Right fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) hit a sacrifice fly to bring home center fielder Brett Callahan (St. Joseph’s). Second baseman Max Viera (Northeastern) scored later in the inning on a wild pitch.

Upper Valley tacked on one more run each in the fifth and sixth innings.

Callahan enjoyed a three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Viera went 2-for-3 with two runs.

While the Nighthawks’ offense took advantage of opportunities to take the lead, it didn’t put the game out of reach. So Upper Valley needed its bullpen to shut Sanford down — and that’s exactly what happened.

Tyler Spitzbarth (Valdosta State) sat the Mainers down in order in the sixth, striking out two. Henry Leake (Boston College) pitched the seventh and eighth and gave up just one hit and one walk while fanning a pair. Connor Holden (Murray State), who was added to the roster last Sunday, made his second Nighthawks appearance in the ninth. He, too, got two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning to close out the win.

“(The bullpen was) big,” Devoid said. “Connor has been a big pickup for us, not just on the mound but in the dugout as well. His presence is really good. And Leake’s a good pitcher. He’s been getting outs all year, and we finally made some plays behind him. Guys are getting their confidence back.”

The Nighthawks close out the week Saturday with a road game against the North Adams SteepleCats.

Seth Tow can be contacted at

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy