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Bombers select Dartmouth’s Rice in MLB draft; three ex-Nighthawks called

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks reliever Aaron Haase follows through on a pitching during a 2019 NECBL game at Maxfield Sports Complex. Haase, a junior at Wichita State, was chosen by the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round of the MLB draft on Tuesday. Valley News file — Greg Fennell

  • Worcester Bravehearts' Ben Rice's home run smile on July 26, 2019. The Dartmouth College catcher earned the Futures Collegiate Baseball League's most valuable player award for the 2020 season. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette - Steve Lanava) Steve Lanava

  • Ben Rice

  • Ben Rice of the Worcester Bravehearts rounds the bases after hitting a home run in an undated photograph. The Dartmouth College catcher earned the Futures Collegiate Baseball League's most valuable player award for the 2020 season. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette - Ashley Green)

  • Dartmouth College catcher Ben Rice bats in an undated photograph. The rising senior was chosen in the 12th round of the MLB draft by the New York Yankees on Tuesday. Mike Janes photograph—Mike Janes/Four Seam Images

  • Dartmouth College catcher Ben Rice throws the baseball in an undated photograph. The rising senior was chosen in the 12th round of the MLB draft by the New York Yankees on Tuesday. Mike Janes photograph

  • Adam Smith

  • Brooks Gosswein

Valley News Staff Writers
Published: 7/13/2021 9:30:36 PM
Modified: 7/13/2021 9:30:38 PM

HANOVER — A Dartmouth College baseball player who hasn’t suited up in Big Green colors in almost two years has done well enough to draw the eyes of the Bronx Bombers.

Rising senior catcher Ben Rice was selected Tuesday by the New York Yankees in the 12th round of the MLB draft. Rice is the first Dartmouth draftee since 2017 and the 37th all-time. He’s also the fourth Dartmouth catcher to be chosen and the first since 2012.

Rice also becomes the second Dartmouth player drafted by the Yankees, joining pitcher Jim Beattie in 1975. Catcher Brad Ausmus, who committed to Dartmouth before signing out of high school, was also drafted by the Yankees in 1987.

The day’s final round also saw two former Upper Valley Nighthawks join the roster of MLB draft picks. UNC Wilmington pitcher Adam Smith went to the San Diego Padres in the 14th round, and the Detroit Tigers chose reliever Aaron Haase in the 17th round of the 20-round draft. Combined with Monday’s fourth-round selection of Bradley pitcher Brooks Gosswein, the Hawks have had 14 players drafted in the team’s five-year history.

Rice hit .278 with 11 RBIs and one home run as a freshman in 2019, his only full season playing at Dartmouth. He started all seven games in 2020 before the Ivy League canceled its season due to COVID-19.

A 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Cohasset, Mass., Rice is playing for the Cotuit Kettleers in the Cape Cod League this summer. Through 12 games, he’s batting .300 with an .810 OPS.

Rice played in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League last summer with the Worcester Bravehearts. He was named league MVP after hitting 11 home runs and posting a .350 batting average and .683 slugging percentage.

Smith, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander, began his UNCW career as both an infielder and pitcher, but he found his form in the latter this season. He opened the Seahawks’ campaign as a closer, converting three saves, and finished as a starter, going 4-0. He ultimately recorded a team-best 2.49 earned-run average and posted a 6-1 record in 61⅓ innings for UNCW.

Smith had a 3-0 mark with a 1.20 ERA for the Nighthawks in 2019. He took turns at shortstop when not on the mound for Upper Valley, batting .195 in 24 games.

Haase, a 5-foot-8, 193-pound righty, won the NECBL’s Joe Nathan top relief pitcher award when he threw for the Nighthawks two summers ago. Haase had a league-best nine saves in 2019 to go with two victories in 17 relief appearances, finishing with a 2.61 earned-run average and 40 strikeouts against 11 walks over 20⅔ innings.

He continued in that role with his return to the Shockers this past college season. A first-team member of the American Athletic Conference all-league team, Haase recorded eight saves and posted a 1.78 ERA with 24 strikeouts and two walks in 18 games.

Gosswein, a 6-2, 205-pound lefty who threw five innings in a 7-4 loss to Winnipesaukee on June 22, 2019, in his only Nighthawks appearance, went to the Chicago White Sox on Monday.

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




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