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Errors doom Nighthawks in NECBL loss

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/10/2021 11:22:50 PM
Modified: 7/10/2021 11:22:50 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Upper Valley Nighthawks’ offense showed up Saturday. But the other facets of the game let them down.

The Nighthawks fell to the Winnipesaukee Muskrats, 11-9, at Maxfield Sports Complex, snapping a two-game NECBL winning streak. It’s Upper Valley’s first loss to Winnipesaukee this season after four straight victories.

The Nighthawks (14-10) out-hit the Muskrats (8-15), 14-10, in the contest. But seven errors — largely due to several players shifting positions with outfielder Brett Callahan (St. Joseph’s) unavailable due to injury — plagued the Nighthawks.

Upper Valley manager Justin Devoid was frustrated by the nature of the loss, but reassured his team after the game.

“You play a team five times, they could squeak one out on you,” Devoid said. “We were undefeated against them this year, we’ve played them well every time, they scored a lot of runs. If we score nine runs, we’re going to beat a lot of teams. We just gotta keep our heads up and keep remembering that we’re a good team, and it’s a long summer.”

The Nighthawks led, 5-2, through three innings. Two of those first three frames were messy in pitching and defense for Upper Valley, and those mistakes caught up with the Nighthawks in the fourth. Starting pitcher Cade Lommel (Creighton) departed with the bases loaded and one out, and all three runs scored unearned after Tyler Spitzbarth (Valdosta State) entered in relief.

From there, the game became a back-and-forth affair. The Nighthawks went back ahead, 6-5, in the bottom of the fourth, but Winnipesaukee tied it again in the fifth. Then the Muskrats grabbed a 9-6 lead in the sixth, only for the Nighthawks to tie it in the bottom half of the inning.

The decisive runs came in the seventh off Nighthawks reliever Cole Garrett (Liberty) on a two-run double by Muskrats right fielder Jake LaPrairie (Tulane).

“You score runs, then you want to throw up a zero,” Devoid said. “We scored in the third, got up 5-2, then all of a sudden they got some momentum. And they carried the momentum with them. And they’ve got some guys at the back end of their bullpen that are really good. And so it put us in a tough spot.”

Nighthawks left fielder Alan Roden (Creighton) put up a four-hit game — his second in the last three contests — going 4-for-5 with a double. Center fielder Andrew Walker (Xavier) went 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and two runs. Designated hitter Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) finished 2-for-4 with a walk, a triple, a solo home run, two RBIs and three runs. Right fielder Will Sullivan (Troy) also recorded a multi-hit game.

First baseman Ronald Evans (UNC Wilmington), who hit a two-run double in the first inning to put the Nighthawks ahead 4-2, said the strong team offensive performance in the loss can give the Nighthawks momentum.

“Offensively, I think we did really well,” Evans said. “We were putting the ball in play for the most part, seeing the ball really well. We definitely need to carry that over into tomorrow, keep our confidence out there in the box. And we just gotta bring it defensively tomorrow.”

Lommel threw 3⅓ innings on the mound. Only two of the five runs charged to him were earned. He gave up four hits and four walks while striking out eight batters.

Garrett threw two innings in relief, after Spitzbarth and Zane Kmietek (Marist), and he was tagged for five runs (four earned) on six hits.

The Nighthawks host the first-place Keene Swamp Bats in a key game Sunday evening. Upper Valley sits in second place in the Northern Division, trailing Keene by two games.

“Those are big games. Keene’s a good team,” Devoid said. “So we want to go out and play that game hard, especially the first-place team. But I think our team’s a first-place team. We just gotta execute tomorrow.”

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


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