Nighthawks Roll in Season Opener

  • Arkansas State junior Drew Tipton, of the Upper Valley Nighthawks, Monday, June 4, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Friday, June 08, 2018

North Adams, Mass. — Not much, apparently, changes in a year.

The Upper Valley Nighthawks scored nine runs in the first four innings and never looked back in a 10-4 win over the North Adams SteepleCats in Thursday night’s NECBL season opener at Joe Wolfe Field.

It is the first time in Upper Valley’s three-year history it has started the season with a victory. The Nighthawks fell to the Newport Gulls, 4-3, in their season opener last summer and lost to the Vermont Mountaineers, 2-0, in the team’s debut in 2016.

“Having those practices (this week before the first game) was big,” Nighthawks head coach Jason Szafarski said. “Understanding who they were and us talking about what type of team we wanted to be, setting our goals early on in the year. I think they’ve bought in.”

Drew Tipton (Arkansas State), Greg Hardison (UNC-Greensboro) and Alvin Melendez (Fordham) all had three hits in the victory, combining for five runs scored and five RBIs. Tipton led the bunch, going 3-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored as the lead-off hitter. He also played center field.

“I thought we did a great job on the bases early,” Szafarski said. “We didn’t have a lot of doubles, a lot of extra base hits, but guys getting extra bases was big, putting guys in scoring position.”

West Georgia pair Ryan Parker and Wes Bucher allowed a combined eight hits, two runs and three walks over seven innings. Bucher also struck out three. Hartford graduate Jordy Allard (SNHU) struck out two in the eighth inning in his NECBL debut. Ty Adcock (Elon) allowed two runs and three walks in the ninth, but struck out two to close out the SteepleCats (0-2).

The Nighthawks return to action tonight against the Keene Swamp Bats (0-1) at 6:30 p.m. at Keene’s Alumni Field. West Georgia righty Greyson McLeod gets the start, followed by Binghamton lefty Reid VanScoter.