Nighthawks left in a wet uncertainty

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2021 12:11:07 AM
Modified: 8/10/2021 12:11:10 AM

LYNN, Mass. — The Upper Valley Nighthawks needed a win Monday in game two of the NECBL North Division Finals against the North Shore Naviators to keep their season alive.

They didn’t get it. But they may not be dead quite yet.

The Nighthawks and Navigators played into the seventh inning in game two of their best-of-three series at Fraser Field on Monday night when it went into a rain delay. It had been raining since the first inning, but it started coming down harder during the seventh.

The teams waited for more than an hour before the game was suspended with North Shore leading, 4-2. The Nighthawks had bases loaded with no outs when action stopped. What happens next is anyone’s guess at this point.

Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid was frustrated by the timing of the delay.

“That was hard,” Devoid said. “We tried like hell to go out and play, and so did they on the other side. Umpires were very cordial with us and very in the middle of everything, just trying to see if we can get out and play. And unfortunately, we had to suspend the game.”

The Navigators opened up their lead in the second inning with three runs against Nighthawks starter Jack Keenan (Marist). They tacked on one more against Jackson Haga (Liberty) in the fourth inning.

The Nighthawks, due to a severe roster crunch, had four pitchers in their batting order. They had three in the game one lineup in Sunday’s series-opening 5-0 loss at Maxfield Sports Complex.

But those pitchers actually produced at the plate. Nick Cantone (Marist), who played right field and hit leadoff, slapped a single up the middle in the sixth inning. When he saw the ball get through the infield, he immediately turned to the Nighthawks’ first-base-line dugout and screamed.

In the seventh inning, Alex Theis (Wright State) led off with a single. Theis started as the designated hitter but later moved to first base.

Cantone scored one of Upper Valley’s two runs in the sixth inning. Center fielder Brett Callahan (St. Joseph’s Univ.) scored on a wild pitch, on which Cantone also advanced to second. Then infielder Kyle Novak (James Madison) delivered an RBI single.

Devoid was thankful for his players’ efforts while playing out of position, between the pitchers in the field and batting and infielders Gehrig Anglin (Wright State) and Luca Trigiani (St. Joseph’s Univ.) throwing scoreless innings on the mound.

“It was awesome,” Devoid said. “We could've used that some other times this summer. But we did what we had to do, and they stepped up in big spots and threw strikes. 

“That's all we asked them to do, just go out there and compete and throw strikes, and they had fun with it. It shows you what can happen in this game when you have fun.”

That fun mentality was an emphasis for Devoid coming into the game. He knew his team was in a difficult position, and he just wanted the Nighthawks to enjoy themselves in what seemed to be a likely final game. And his squad took that to heart.

Throughout the night, the Nighthawks were dancing in the dugout and joking with each other. Pitchers who missed opportunities at the plate laughed their way back to the dugout. They went crazy for those moments when players stepped up while out of position.

During the rain delay, they played games in the dugout. Anglin ran through the rain from home plate to second base and slid in head-first. The team formed an impromptu dance circle during an attempt to ready the mound for play.

Nighthawks catcher Parker Haskin (Elon) said it was sad they were missing so many guys by the end but that it was a well-bonded team.

“We had a really good group of guys. We all got along really well,” Haskin said. “We just wanted to enjoy the last time. Who knows if we're gonna be able to see everyone again?”

Information about the game’s resumption, if it even happens, remains undetermined. The Nighthawks may be losing more players from an already thin roster.

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




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