Please support the Valley News during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the local economy — and many of the advertisers who support our work — to a near standstill. During this unprecedented challenge, we continue to make our coronavirus coverage free to everyone at www.vnews.com/coronavirus because we feel our most critical mission is to deliver vital information to our communities.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, we are asking for your support. Please consider subscribing or making a donation today. Learn more at the links below.

Thank you for your support of the Valley News.

Dan McClory, publisher


WRJ 3, Brattleboro 2: Hawks rally in final two at-bats to advance to league semifinals

  • Under perfect summer evening sky, Robert Slocum throws from the mound in the second inning of the Junior Nighthawks' quarterfinal game against Brattleboro in the Vermont Summer Baseball League tournament in White River Junction, Vt., on July 31, 2020. White River Junction won, 3-2, to advance to the semifinal. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Junior Nighthawks celebrate their 3-2 quarterfinal win over Brattleboro in the Vermont Summer Baseball League tournament in White River Junction, Vt., on July 31, 2020. The team advances to the Saturday semifinal on their home field at 4 p.m. (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 head coach Justin Devoid gives Jake Barry encouragement late in their quarterfinal game against Brattleboro in the Vermont Summer Baseball League tournament in White River Junction, Vt., on July 31, 2020. With their 3-2 win, the Junior Nighthawks advance to the semifinal game. (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: 7/31/2020 9:48:30 PM
Modified: 7/31/2020 9:48:26 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Luck wore the White River Junction Junior Nighthawks’ neon yellow colors on Friday night.

After being shut down for five innings, the third-seeded Hawks rallied in their final two at-bats to edge No. 6 Brattleboro, 3-2, in Vermont Summer Baseball League tournament quarterfinal at the Maxfield Sports Complex. Infielder Kyle Hamilton landed the key blow, doubling home the tying run and scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning as WRJ (13-4) rallied from 2-0 deficit.

The Hawks play in the 4 p.m. semifinal at the Max on Saturday.

“We had guys step up in big moments,” WRJ coach Justin Devoid said. “It’s what we talk about all year, playing a seven-inning game.”

Rob Slocum (Windsor High/Norwich U.) scattered nine Brattleboro hits and pitched into the seventh inning for the win. After running into his pitch-count maximum, Slocum retreated in favor of lefty Zach Whitmore (Randolph/Husson College), who surrendered a single before recording the final two outs for the save.

Brattleboro (10-8) hurt itself with missed scoring chances. The visitors had two runners on base and none out three times in the opening five innings but managed just the two runs.

“I’m just here to throw strikes and let my fielders make the plays,” Slocum said of his error-free defense. “I’m a contact pitcher, and that’s what we did today. It worked.”

Brattleboro let two good chances to score get away in the top of the second.

Adam Newton and Alex Brigham delivered back-to-back singles to center field to pressure Slocum. Turner Clews attempted a sacrifice bunt to move both over, but his popped-up attempt went right to first baseman Hamilton (Hartford), who made the catch, spun around and caught Newton off the bag at second for a double play.

Brigham stole second base, setting up a first-and-third, two-out opportunity after a Zinabu McNeise singled to right. Slocum induced a grounder to short to escape the jam unharmed.

Brattleboro had better luck in the fourth.

Josh Pattison reached when his routine grounder bad-hopped off the shoulder of WRJ shortstop Ryland Richardson (Windsor). Newton singled to right, and Brigham sent a shot off the tip of Slocum’s glove and over the second-base bag to plate Pattison for a 1-0 lead.

The Junior Nighthawks’ defense kept it from being much worse. Newton got himself caught in a rundown thanks on a tapper to third. WRJ second baseman Alex Bushway (Hartford) made a superb diving grab of a liner for the second out. After a Slocum wild pitch plated a second Brattleboro run, Bushway handled a routine grounder from Bratt’s Dan Tetreault to keep the damage at two runs.

The visitors also put two on with none out in the fifth without effect.

“It was hard,” Slocum said. “I had to hit my spots and allow my defense (to play). They popped up two bunts in key situations, which helped.”

The Junior Hawks scratched back a run in the home fifth. Two errors allowed WRJ’s Jacob Dwinell (Hartford) to reach third base with no outs, but Newton reached back to snag a comebacker by Jake Barry (White River Valley) to catch Dwinell in a rundown. Barry raced around the third and came home on an RBI groundout from Cam Tucker (Hartford).

Brattleboro paid for its missed chances in the home sixth.

With one out, WRJ leadoff hitter Ryan Pepe (Thetford) flared a single to shallow right. Hamilton stepped up and ripped Newton’s first offering to the left-center field fence, bringing Pepe home with the tying run. Richardson followed with a single to right, plating Hamilton for the Junior Hawks’ only lead of the contest.

“We’re fairly lucky that it happened,” Devoid said, “but I’m happy that it happened.”

Fungoes: Game time was 1 hour, 46 minutes. … Newton took the hard-luck loss for Brattleboro. A rising sophomore on the Castleton University baseball team, the right-hander allowed just four hits, struck out three and kept WRJ batters off-balance all game long. “He has good off-speed and he throws a hard fastball, hardest fastball we see all year,” Hamilton said. “He plays with emotion, throws with emotion. It’s fun to compete against him.” … Brattleboro coach Eric Libardoni also oversees the boys hockey program at Brattleboro Union High School. His father, Al, a longtime high school and college umpire, was on hand for the game. … Second-seeded Lakes Region edged No. 7 South Burlington in eight innings, 4-3, on Friday and will be WRJ’s foe on Saturday. The Junior Nighthawks took two of three games from their Fair Haven-based opponent in the regular season. No. 5 Colchester will take on top-seeded S.D. Ireland in the 1 p.m. contest.

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




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2019 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy