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Nighthawks spread the joy in easy victory

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks runner Cole Frederick talks with coach Brandon Eady on Friday during a 10-0 NECBL defeat of the visiting Winnipesaukee Muskrats. (Valley News — Tris Wykes)

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks pitcher Corley Woods uncoils against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats during Friday’s game at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction.

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks manager Keller Bradford walks off the Maxfield Complex field with batter Jack Zyska after the latter struck out Friday against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats. The Nighthawks won the NECBL game, 10-0. (Valley News — Tris Wykes)



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, June 14, 2019

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — All it took was nine innings against one of the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s two winless teams to cure all of the Upper Valley Nighthawks’ ails.

There were smiles, laughs and high-fives in the Nighthawks’ dugout following their 10-0 win over the Winnipesaukee Muskrats on Friday night, at the Maxfield Sports Complex for the second consecutive win for an Upper Valley club that started the season 1-4 through its first five games.

The Nighthawks’ offense strung together 13 hits and blew things open in the third inning, while five Upper Valley pitchers combined to allow five hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in the shutout victory.

“These guys, the last two games, really came to the ballpark with a lot of energy, ready to play, ready to go,” Upper Valley head coach Keller Bradford said on his team’s turnaround over the last three days. “They kind of came to the realization that they can go out there, play some clean baseball and win some games. That’s exactly what we’ve done the last two games.”

The Nighthawks make the long road trip to the Ocean State Waves (3-4) on Saturday night before returning to Maxfield for a home contest against the Sanford Mainers (2-3) on Sunday afternoon. They have a scheduled off day on Monday.

“We got some more players, they brought the atmosphere way higher,” said Upper Valley’s David Marcano, who was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored against the Muskrats. “As soon as we step (in) the ballpark, we’re all smiling, yelling at each other, picking each other up.

“I think we’re starting to get hot. We’ve just got to stay hot, keep it rolling into the weekend and hopefully we can get some more wins.”

Cole Frederick, the Nighthawks newcomer from Jacksonville (Ala.) State, opened the scoring in the second inning on two wild pitches by Winnipesaukee starter Rhian Mann. It was Frederick’s second game in the Upper Valley lineup — both wins — and he finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a strikeout.

“It’s been fun,” said Frederick, who drove about 20 hours with Jacksonville State teammate Corley Woods to get to the Upper Valley earlier this week. “The first day, I didn’t hit as well as I wanted to. But that’s to be expected. I’m starting to get used to it today. I felt a lot more comfortable in the box.”

The Nighthawks blew the game open in the third inning with eight runs — five with two outs — on seven hits, one walk and one hit by pitch.

Greg Hardison (UNC-Greensboro) and Anthony Quirion (Lamar) led off with back-to-back RBI singles, which chased the Muskrats’ Mann. Avery George (Lamar), with two outs, hit an infield RBI single, Adam Smith (UNC-Wilmington) had a two-run single into left field and Brian Moore (Lipscomb) hit a bases-clearing triple to right field. Marcano added an RBI single, scoring Moore from third base. Hardison ended the inning with a strikeout, but the damage was done.

“I think we have a long way to go, but we’re getting close,” Bradford said.

“We’re starting to find the right guys in the lineup, the right mix in the lineup, the right mix of pitchers to come to the game and give us some good innings. It’s only going to get better from here.”

George added to the lead in the fourth inning with an RBI single into center field that scored Jack Zyska (Notre Dame) from first base. Upper Valley led, 10-0, after four innings. George was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

Then it was all about the Nighthawks’ pitchers.

Skyler Pichardo (Marist) struck out four and walked two batters in the first two innings in the reliever’s first start of the season. Aaron Ernst (Wright State) gave up three hits, a walk and threw a strikeout in the next three innings. Woods gave up two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in the sixth and seven innings in his pitching debut with the Nighthawks.

Lefty Cal Carver (Wichita State) threw a clean slate in the eighth and Devin Beckley (Citadel) closed the game out with one hit in the ninth for the shutout.

Bradford said the bullpen day was scheduled, giving his pitchers a chance to get some work under their belt before the grind of the summer season gets underway.

“That’s the best thing to do in our situation in summer ball, to get these guys innings but not max them out,” Bradford said. “Open with some guys, let them go two or three, then go to the next guys. Not letting guys go six or seven. That’s not what we’re expecting at all.”

Jordan DiValerio, the St. Joseph’s righty who rejoined the team after a short stint with the Cape Cod League, is scheduled to start against Ocean State. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.