Hawks Crushed In Playoff Opener

Published: 8/4/2016 11:50:25 PM
Sanford, Maine — The Upper Valley Nighthawks were snapped violently back into reality on Thursday night, falling 12-2 to the No. 1-seeded Sanford Mainers in game one of their best-of-three first round NECBL playoff series. And for the third time in three days, Upper Valley finds itself on the verge of elimination.

“They just jumped on us pretty well,” the Nighthawks’ Charlie Concannon said in a post-game phone interview. “With our lack of pitching, it kind of became perhaps a less competitive game. Guys were still out there giving their best. We just had guys playing out of position left and right.”

The wheels fell off in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Sanford strung together six runs and six hits and sent 14 different batters to the plate. Upper Valley, digging deep into its bullpen as the list of available pitchers for Upper Valley manager Nick Cenatiempo continues to shrink, called on Zack Canada, Walker Grisanti and Charlie Concannon, Nighthawks position players, to take the mound and stop the bleeding.

Dylan Verdonk allowed six hits, three earned runs and one walk in 2 innings in his sixth start of the summer. Avery Fliger and Joe Levasseur entered the game in relief, allowing a combined five hits, three runs and one walk.

“There comes a point where you need to take care of your players,” Cenatiempo said via phone. “You see their bodies, you see their swings, you see how they’re going about their business. You can tell it’s kind of not the best situation for them. I need to get them rest. I need to get them off their feet because we looked really tired.”

Sanford amassed 19 hits in the game, while the Nighthawks managed only three hits.

Trent Leimkuehler launched a two-run double into deep center field in the ninth inning, giving the Nighthawks their only runs. Mike Coss, normally a reliever for Upper Valley, scored one of the Nighthawks’ runs.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Concannon said. “We’ve had a ton of support all season long. It’s great to get back on our home field. Hopefully we can keep playing well for our fans.”

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