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Nighthawks notebook: The boiling point arrives

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks Manager Justin Devoid has an exchange with an umpire on his way to the dugout between innings with the Sanford Mainers at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. The Nighthawks won 6-3. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks Manager Justin Devoid heads to the dugout after ending an inning on a double play against Sanford at Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. The Nighthawks won 6-3. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photographs — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/28/2022 9:22:59 PM
Modified: 7/30/2022 12:38:14 AM

MONTPELIER — With the Upper Valley Nighthawks trailing by a run in the seventh inning Wednesday night in the deciding game of the Governor’s Cup series against the Vermont Mountaineers, Justin Devoid’s frustration boiled over.

The Nighthawks’ manager had been displeased with an inconsistent strike zone the entire game and had come out to argue one of his players being thrown out at the plate in the third. When an easy chopper to first baseman Ryan Ignoffo (Eastern Illinois) was ruled a foul ball, Devoid finally snapped, racing out of the dugout to make his case to the home plate umpire.

That led to what he said was the first ejection of his coaching career.

“(The umpire) had been bad most of the night, so at that point, I was just getting a little fed up with it,” Devoid said. “It seemed like a lot of the calls weren’t going our way, so at the end of the day, I just needed to have my guys’ back and go after it.”

Despite Devoid’s best efforts to fire up his team, the Nighthawks (18-23) could not rally and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Mountaineers, ceding the Governor’s Cup to Vermont for the first time since 2018. Upper Valley is now three games out of the final New England Collegiate Baseball League playoff spot with three games remaining and needs to surpass four teams in the standings.

Seth Logue (Kentucky) started for the Nighthawks, allowing two home runs in his four innings, and both long balls likely would have stayed in the yard at Maxfield Sports Complex, where the outfield fence is considerably deeper than the 311 feet down the right-field line at Recreation Field.

Upper Valley trailed by two when Logue departed — Mountaineers starter Jackson Harrigan struck out the first five Nighthawks and pitched three scoreless innings before the visitors got on the board in the fourth on a groundout. A sacrifice fly by Will Sullivan (Troy) brought in Jonathan Hogart (Louisiana Tech) in the sixth to again make it a one-run game.

The Nighthawks’ bullpen gave them a chance, with Kentucky’s Ryan Hagenow going three shutout innings in his final appearance and Matthew McShane (St. Joseph’s) striking out two in a three-up, three-down eighth. But Upper Valley went down in order in both the eighth and ninth, striking out 13 times in the game.

“We’ve been pretty patient in the box the second half of the season, but (there were) a lot of swings and misses today,” Devoid said.

While the Nighthawks were not yet mathematically eliminated from postseason contention entering Thursday, many results need to break their way. Thursday’s makeup doubleheader against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats was again postponed and will only be played Sunday if either team is still alive for the playoffs. Otherwise, Upper Valley will conclude the season Friday evening at Maxfield against the Sanford Mainers.

Ignoffo wins Home Run Derby: After not being selected in the Major League Baseball draft, Ignoffo — who is tied for the NECBL lead with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs — won the Home Run Derby prior to Sunday’s All-Star Game on Martha’s Vineyard.

Ignoffo led all participants with 14 homers in the first round to advance to the finals, then bested the Newport Gulls’ Colton Ledbetter, 13-12, in the championship round. Ledbetter is the league’s other co-leader in homers and RBIs, though he has played in 42 games to Ignoffo’s 36.

“It’s good for his confidence and him moving forward as a player,” Devoid said. “It’s a good resume-builder for next year, whether or not he gets drafted or picked up as a free agent.”

All six of the Nighthawks’ all-stars saw action for the North Division, which lost the contest to the South, 13-2. Ignoffo opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first inning, and catcher Clay Stearns (Troy) singled in his only at-bat. Infielder Max Grant (Canisius) and outfielder Tyler Sorrentino (College of Charleston) were both 0-for-2.

McShane and Randall Alejo (College of St. Rose) each pitched a scoreless inning, with McShane striking out the side in the sixth.

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.


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