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Junior Nighthawks looking strong so far

  • Rutland and White River Junction face off in a Vermont Summer Baseball League game at the Mayfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt., on July 8, 2020. The 13-team VSBL is a one-time summer replacement for an American Legion season canceled by the coronavirus pandemic in April. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • White River Junction's Jacob Barry dives back to first ahead of the tag from Rutland's Josh Benyon in the third inning of their game in White River Junction, Vt., on July 8, 2020. White River won, 10-1. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • White River Junction's Robert Slocum pitches early in the game with Rutland in White River Junction, Vt., on July 8, 2020. White River won, 10-1, and Slocum earned the win on the mound. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/10/2020 9:52:55 PM
Modified: 7/11/2020 4:29:35 PM

The White River Junction Junior Nighthawks, through the first week and a half of play, are looking like one of the better squads in the Vermont Summer Baseball League.

Although its schedule is split into Northern and Southern divisions, the VSBL — which is serving as a fill-in for the canceled Vermont American Legion season — is arranging its standings as one unit, following the Vermont Principals Association model. Teams earn points for victories, getting a bump for road wins, and are ranked in descending order by a rating that averages points accumulated divided by games played.

Entering Saturday, WRJ (5-1) is third behind Hinesburg-based S.D. Ireland (5-0) and Fair Haven-centered Lakes Region (5-1). Lakes Region owns a slight edge on the Junior Nighthawks for having three road wins to WRJ’s one.

All 13 teams will make the VSBL postseason later, but there’s value gained for a top-three regular-season finish. Those teams will get first-round byes in a single-elimination tournament scheduled to take just four days (July 30-Aug. 2) to complete.

WRJ’s most recent victory of an ongoing five-game winning streak was the most impressive. In beating Bellows Falls, 9-6, at the Maxfield Sports Complex on Thursday night, the Junior Nighthawks avenged their only defeat and did so impressively.

After allowing a pair of first-inning runs, WRJ ran off the next nine in a row. Tying the contest through two innings, the hosts used a three-run third and four-run fourth to pull away. Kyle Hamilton (Hartford High), Robert Slocum (Windsor) and Jacob Barry (White River Valley) delivered two-hit efforts, all in support of winning pitcher Alex Bushway (Hartford).

Between Slocum, Bushway and Zach Whitmore (Randolph/Husson College), the Hawks also appear to have at least three decent starting arms. Whitmore was particularly solid in Tuesday’s 6-3 home win over Brattleboro, throwing a complete-game five-hitter with seven strikeouts against three walks and retiring nine batters in a row at one point.

WRJ opens the weekend with a twinbill at winless Bennington (0-6) on Saturday. The juicy matchup is Wednesday when the Junior Nighthawks visit Lakes Region, which returns the favor on July 18 for a doubleheader at Maxfield.

Anglers ups and downs

The Upper Valley Anglers 19Us broke a four-game losing streak on Thursday night, but the program’s 17U roster has yet to find its groove in New Hampshire COVID Baseball League play.

After running off three shutouts and getting some 20 scoreless innings from their pitchers at the league’s outset, the 19Us were bound to face a stiffer test once they ran into the elite AAU-style programs that make up a portion of their schedule. Upper Valley lost all four of its games this week to such teams (Seacoast Pirates Navy twice, Concord Cannons and New Hampshire Prospects White once each), but all were one-run games, save for a 13-0 loss to NHP.

Thursday’s 9-3 victory over NHP Red broke the slide. Upper Valley (4-4) did its damage early with a four-run second inning and a three-run third. Keegan Silovich (Hanover) doubled, singled twice and scored two runs to lead the Anglers, who also picked up two-hit efforts from Trey Parker (KUA/Roanoke College) and two-run nights from Ben Williams (Hanover) and Nolan Gantrish (Hanover).

The 19Us (who played at home Friday night against Merrimack) have four games in the coming week, road dates at Seacoast Pirates Silver on Sunday and the Cannons on Wednesday along with home encounters with Dover on Monday and the Nashua Defenders on July 18.

The Anglers 17Us (0-5) have been run-ruled in four games thus far. They’ll host the STA Saints for a 9 a.m. doubleheader at Lebanon High on Saturday and Keene for a single on Thursday to go with trips to Hollis Brookline on Tuesday and Portsmouth for two games on July 18.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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