Thank you for your interest in and support of the Valley News.

An anonymous donor has agreed to MATCH every dollar donated up to $28,500 in our hosting of journalists Frances Mize and Alex Driehaus for their one-year placements with the Valley News through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support. Donate today and DOUBLE the impact of your support.

At .500, Hawks go back to drawing board

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks player Nicholas Wang slides back to first base as Sanford Mainers first baseman Aidan Kane attempts to tag him out during a game at Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Sanford Mainers player Quinn McDaniel urges the umpire to call him safe after sliding into second base and being tagged out by Upper Valley Nighthawks player Ty Kaufman during a game at Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • Upper Valley Nighthawks player Patrick Williams, left, fist bumps outfielder Tyler Sorrentino as he exits the field at the end of an inning during a game against the Sanford Mainers at Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction, Vt., on Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/7/2022 9:03:06 PM
Modified: 7/8/2022 12:28:19 PM

If the Upper Valley Nighthawks are going to make the New England Collegiate Baseball League playoffs this year, it will almost certainly be as a wild card team. That’s because their biggest rivals, the Vermont Mountaineers, have continued winning at an absurd pace.

Things got testy during the Green Mountain State rivals’ two meetings last week, both at Maxfield Sports Complex. In Friday evening’s 8-2 Nighthawks loss, both teams had plenty of gripes with the strike zone, and the home plate umpire issued warnings to both benches.

Tensions boiled over in the bottom of the sixth inning when Will Sullivan (Troy) was hit by a pitch with two outs and two strikes, but the umpire ruled that Sullivan had stuck his elbow out over the plate and assessed him strike three.

Nighthawks pitching coach Chad Sturgeon came out of the dugout to protest and was promptly ejected. Vermont’s win gave the Mountaineers a sparkling 20-2 record at the time and their second win in as many games in the Governor’s Cup series.

After a 6-5 loss at Winnipesaukee on Saturday, the Nighthawks (12-12 entering Thursday’s home date with Sanford) welcomed the Mountaineers back to Maxfield on Sunday for a back-and-forth affair. Upper Valley broke open a tie game with six runs in the fifth, an inning that included a go-ahead double by Ryan Ignoffo (Eastern Illinois) and RBI singles from Sullivan and Kyle Novak (James Madison).

But the Nighthawks quickly learned that no lead is safe against Vermont.

The Mountaineers responded immediately with six runs of their own in the sixth, all with two outs and all unearned after an error by Sullivan at first base. The deadlock held until the bottom of the eighth, when Upper Valley retook the lead on an RBI groundout from Jonathan Hogart (Louisiana Tech). Flamethrowing closer Trey Nordmann (Lipscomb) then set down the Mountaineers in the ninth for a 10-9 Nighthawks win, sending Vermont to just its third loss of the year.

“It was one of those games where as a closer, you have to stay locked in,” Nordmann said. “In a one-run game, you start thinking about, ‘If I hang a slider, this guy could take me 450 feet,’ so it’s pretty big.”

Following a scheduled off day on July 4, the Nighthawks were rained out against Keene on Tuesday, then made the long trek to Rhode Island for a Wednesday seven-inning doubleheader against the Coastal Division-leading Newport Gulls.

Upper Valley had plenty of chances in the first game, leaving two runners on base in the first and third innings but came up short in a 4-1 defeat.

The biggest bright spot for the Nighthawks was the return of Nicholas Wang (Boston College), who had been out with an injury since the second game of the season. Wang drove in Upper Valley’s lone run in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.

But the nightcap only brought more frustration. The Nighthawks took the lead in the first on Ignoffo’s RBI double and struck again two innings later on a single by Max Grant (Canisius). Right-hander Seth Logue (Kentucky) threw four scoreless innings before giving way to the bullpen, and that’s when the Gulls rallied. Newport plated three runs in the fifth against Chic DeGaetano (Villanova) to take the lead — and eventually the game, 3-2.

Upper Valley appeared poised to tie the contest in the seventh, but on a two-out base hit by Tyler Sorrentino (College of Charleston), Luca Trigiani (St. Joseph’s) was cut down at the plate to end it.

So the Nighthawks are back down to .500 for the first time since June 24, when they were in the midst of their season-best five-game winning streak. They’ll have two more rivalry games against the Mountaineers — in Montpelier on Friday and back in White River Junction on Saturday — over the weekend as they attempt to make up the large gap in the North Division standings.

“Obviously, it’s a (Governor’s) Cup game, so the guys are pretty fired up,” manager Justin Devoid said last week. “We just need to come out in the first with a really good start, and everything else will follow.”

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


Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News


Valley News

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

 

© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy