Upper Valley Nighthawks fall after errant throw hits fan, shifts momentum against North Shore

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2021 11:48:38 PM
Modified: 6/24/2021 4:02:08 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Upper Valley Nighthawks were coasting through Wednesday’s game against the North Shore Navigators at Maxfield Sports Complex.

Then a throwing error at the top of the eighth inning dismantled the Nighthawks’ advantage, leading to an 11-10 NECBL loss.

The Upper Valley led, 8-3, through five innings, and 9-6 through seven. The game was moving fast.

Then the Navigators’ leadoff hitter, first baseman Kyle Maurice, reached first on a throwing error by Nighthawks third baseman Ronald Evans (UNC Wilmington). Evans’ throw sailed so high over first base that it struck a fan sitting along the first-base line in the head.

The game paused for nearly 10 minutes while the fan received medical attention. An ambulance quickly arrived to transport her to the hospital.

The pause gave the North Shore (7-6-2) got the momentum shift it needed; they scored five runs in the inning.

“I hope she’s OK,” Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid said of the unfortunate fan. “Hopefully we can reach out to the family and see how she’s doing. But, yeah, I think that kind of swings momentum a little bit and gets you out of a rhythm if you’re in one.”

North Shore loaded the bases against Upper Valley pitcher Zane Kmietek (Marist). The Navigators cut the deficit to 9-7 on a single by right fielder Dylan Brazil. They then took a 10-9 lead on a fly-ball double to left field by designated hitter Jose Aquino. The double went straight down the left field line, and the Nighthawks bench thought it was a foul ball — and was furious when the home plate umpire ruled it fair.

But while the controversial call allowed the go-ahead runs to score, Devoid didn’t want to make excuses. He knew much of the damage was self-inflicted, as the error, a hit batter, and an infield single to shortstop allowed the decisive top of the eighth to continue.

“We had this game,” Devoid said. “Came out really hot, then sat on a lead, just didn’t make some plays, and then a call doesn’t go your way, and that’s what happens. Can’t make excuses on a bad call. There’s a couple plays that should’ve been made. And they just weren’t.”

The Nighthawks (8-5) launched a two-out rally in the bottom of the ninth and scored one run on an RBI single by pinch hitter Will Sullivan (Troy), but they ultimately stranded the tying and go-ahead runs on base.

Nighthawks left fielder Andrew Walker (Xavier) and first baseman Kyle Novak (James Madison) both recorded three-hit games, and both had one RBI and two runs. Designated hitter Gehrig Anglin (Wright State), who began his second season with Upper Valley on Wednesday, gave the Nighthawks the lead in the first inning on a twoS-RBI triple.

Jordy Allard (Richmond) started on the mound for the Nighthawks. He lasted five innings, giving up three earned runs on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

He said the first two innings were tough for him — all three runs came in the second — but he felt good for the last three innings. He was disappointed about surrendering the walks more than the hits, but said he was mostly pleased with his performance.

“After the second, for me, it was not getting upset about the three runs,” Allard said. “A walk, a bloop hit and then two singles. I can’t get upset about that. I just gotta keep pitching. So I wasn’t upset with that. And just kind of calmed myself down and said, ‘Let’s go back out there and get some more scoreless innings.’ And that’s what I did.”

The Nighthawks will have a chance to move on from the collapse quickly, as they take on the Keene Swamp Bats on the road on Thursday.

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

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