Nighthawks Notebook: EIU’s Ignoffo turning into Iggy Pop

  • Ryan Ignoffo, of the Upper Valley Nighthawks, left, takes off for second base as Keene Swamp Bats pitcher Parker Murphy follows through during the Nighthawks 10-0 win at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (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 photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks third baseman Ryan Ignoffo, left, talks with Manager Justin Devoid on the walk back to the dugout between innings against the Keene Swamp Bats at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The Nighthawks won 10-0. (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

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawk Ryan Ignoffo stops a hit at third base before throwing to first for an out against the Keene Swamp Bats at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The Nighthawks won 10-0. (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

  • Ty Kaufman, of the Upper Valley Nighthawks, watches the action against the Keene Swamp Bats at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Upper Valley won 10-0. (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

  • Max Grant, of the Upper Valley Nighthawks, connects with a pitch from Keene Swamp Bats pitcher William Flanagan at the Maxfield Sports Complex in Hartford, Vt., on Wednesday, June 22, 2022. The Nighthawks won 10-0. (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 — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2022 9:27:14 PM
Modified: 6/23/2022 9:26:55 PM

The on-field results have remained mixed for the Upper Valley Nighthawks of late, but several players have displayed flashes of individual brilliance over the last week.

It would be hard to characterize Ryan Ignoffo’s recent hot streak as just a flash, though. The Eastern Illinois product leads the New England Collegiate Baseball League in home runs and RBIs — all thanks to a four-game stretch in which he went deep five times, culminating with a two-homer, nine-RBI performance in Sunday’s 19-8 road win over the North Adams SteepleCats. Ignoffo was named NECBL Player of the Week for his power surge.

“In the first few games, I was struggling and just missing pitches, but I never let that get to me,” Ignoffo said. “I’ve been in college for four years now and gone away for three different summers. The first couple games or weeks are kind of rough adjusting to the wood bats, because you don’t have much time right after school. But right now, I would definitely say I’m adjusted. I feel healthier than ever, and I’m just ready to do my thing.”

Last Friday’s 10-5 home loss to the Winnipesaukee Muskrats marked the third time in the young season that the Nighthawks have given up at least 10 runs to Winnipesaukee. Upper Valley then dropped a 5-3 decision Saturday to the in-state rival Vermont Mountaineers, who lead the North Division, in Montpelier.

But Sunday’s win at North Adams, with Ignoffo leading the charge, represented a single-game franchise scoring record for the Nighthawks. Outfielder Tyler Sorrentino, out of the College of Charleston, was 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and Canisius’ Max Grant and Charleston Southern’s Nicholas Fazzari also had multi-hit games.

After Monday’s off day, Upper Valley lost, 6-4, at last-place Sanford on Tuesday, but came back to pick up its best win of the year Wednesday when the Keene Swamp Bats, in second place, visited the Maxfield Sports Complex. The Nighthawks jumped out in front with three runs in the first inning and kept adding on, scoring twice in the fourth and five more in the seventh as five pitchers combined for a four-hit shutout in a 10-0 victory.

“We got some guys taking extra (batting practice) before the game, and that was the message,” Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid said. “I was talking to the guys about swinging at better pitches earlier in the count instead of just swinging earlier in the count to swing. The approach changed a lot, and a couple guys got some good, key hits that we really needed. That’s something we’d been missing, so hopefully we can keep rolling.”

Luca Trigiani, out of St. Joseph’s University, broke out of a slump with a two-hit, four-RBI evening. Ignoffo showed he’s more than just a slugger by going 4-for-5 with a quartet of singles, Sorrentino singled and doubled, and Johnny Decker, in the No. 9 spot in the lineup, had three productive plate appearances with an RBI single, a walk and a sacrifice fly.

Decker, a Marist College product, missed the first four games of the season while recovering from a concussion but said he is now fully recovered.

“I had to take two weeks off and sit in a dark room with no lights to recover,” Decker said. “Everything feels good, no blurriness. I’ve been working on trying to see the ball a little bit deeper, stay in the middle of the field. I hit that single with two strikes, so as long as I stay in the middle, that’s when I’m at my best.”

Matthew McShane, also at St. Joseph’s, tossed three shutout innings in his first start of the season. Austin Wainer kept the Swamp Bats scoreless for three more, and Hudson Leach, Michael O’Hanlon and Trey Nordmann completed the shutout with a scoreless inning each.

The Nighthawks entered Thursday with a 6-7 record, tied for third in their division with Winnipesaukee. Their scheduled game for Thursday evening against the SteepleCats at Maxfield was postponed due to inclement weather and will be made up on July 18; Upper Valley’s homestand will resume Friday against the Mystic Schooners, currently tied for first in the Coastal Division.

“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Devoid said. “A lot of our wins right now are against .500 teams and below. Everyone’s really close right now, so for us to come out and beat a team like Keene is really good for us. Finally the offense hit the way we can, and we threw the ball really well, too.”

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




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