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Nighthawks Notebook: Choate now a Giant on the mound

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  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jack Choate, a left-handed pitcher out of Assumption College, was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the MLB draft on Monday. Dominik Vega photograph—

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jack Choate, a left-handed pitcher out of Assumption College, was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the MLB draft on Monday. Dominik Vega photographs

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jack Choate, a left-handed pitcher out of Assumption College, was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the MLB draft on Monday. Dominik Vega photograph

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jack Choate, a left-handed pitcher out of Assumption College, was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the MLB draft on Monday. Dominik Vega photograph—

  • The Upper Valley Nighthawks' Jack Choate, a left-handed pitcher out of Assumption College, was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the MLB draft on Monday. Dominik Vega photograph—

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/21/2022 9:42:49 PM
Modified: 7/21/2022 9:42:25 PM

Three days after his final appearance for the Upper Valley Nighthawks, Jack Choate (Assumption College) was selected in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the San Francisco Giants.

The 6-foot-8 left-hander had a 2.39 ERA in 26⅓ innings with the Nighthawks this summer. His signature performance came July 8 against the rival Vermont Mountaineers, when he pitched five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and no walks and earned a much-needed win.

Choate’s strong summer followed up an excellent junior season with the Division II Greyhounds in the Northeast-10 Conference, where he was 6-2 with a 2.43 ERA in 70⅓ innings. He struck out an eye-popping 16.25 batters per nine innings, meaning just over 60% of all outs he recorded were strikeouts.

“With Jack, it always looks like it’s no effort for him to throw the way he does,” Nighthawks manager Justin Devoid said. “He kind of has a slow windup, and then all of a sudden, 90 (mph) is on top of you. He has really good swing-and-miss stuff with his slider and his splitter that he’s been throwing.”

Closer Trey Nordmann (Lipscomb), who left the Nighthawks last week, will also get a chance to play professionally, signing with the Baltimore Orioles as an undrafted free agent. Nordmann throws an upper-90s fastball but struggled to command it in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, finishing with 10 walks and 15 strikeouts in 11 innings.

Two of Nordmann’s Lipscomb teammates, pitchers Tyler Legere and Patrick Williams, also pitched their final games for the neon and navy last Friday. To help compensate, the Nighthawks have added Randolph-Macon College right-hander Sam Slevin, who has yet to appear in a game.

Six chosen for All-Star Game: The Nighthawks, along with the Mountaineers and Sanford Mainers, are tied for the most NECBL all-stars among North Division teams with six.

Randall Alejo (College of St. Rose) has been one of Upper Valley’s most dependable starting pitchers, with a 1.54 ERA, 26 strikeouts and just four walks in 23⅓ innings. Matthew McShane (St. Joseph’s) has emerged as a relief ace, sporting a 0.49 ERA in 18⅓ innings with 22 strikeouts.

Alejo played with the Nighthawks last summer as well but was limited to 8⅔ innings due to injuries.

“He’s always had great stuff, his ball runs more than anyone else’s on the team, goes both ways, and when he can stay cool, calm and collected on the mound in tough situations, (his confidence) is there,” pitching coach Chad Sturgeon said. “He’s even been really good when he hasn’t felt 100%.”

Catcher Clay Stearns (Troy), infielders Max Grant (Canisius) and Ryan Ignoffo (Eastern Illinois) and outfielder Tyler Sorrentino (College of Charleston) are also on the all-star roster.

Sorrentino has been the Nighthawks’ leadoff hitter throughout the summer, batting .276 and tied with Stearns for the team lead in walks. Grant has shifted around in the lineup and is a .281 hitter with a team-best 11 doubles.

Despite a recent rough patch, Ignoffo still leads the NECBL with 44 RBIs, is tied for the league lead with 10 home runs and is third with a .371 batting average. His .710 slugging percentage is also tops in the league, and he will also represent the Nighthawks in the NECBL Home Run Derby on Sunday. Ignoffo even earned the win on the mound in Sunday’s victory at Ocean State, getting the final four outs as the Nighthawks took the lead in the ninth. He also went deep in that game.

Pitcher Chris Lotito (Seton Hall) is Upper Valley’s nominee for the NECBL Fan Vote contest. Lotito has a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings of work, striking out four batters for every walk.

The Home Run Derby is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Martha’s Vineyard, with the All-Star Game to follow at 4:30.

Wild card push in jeopardy: With Thursday night’s game at Winnipesaukee rained out, the Nighthawks remain four games below .500 at 16-20, 2½ games behind Ocean State for the final postseason spot with eight to play. Upper Valley picked up a 4-3 win over first-place Vermont last Thursday but has dropped three of four since, including one-run losses at Mystic on Saturday and at Sanford on Wednesday.

That leaves the Hawks a half-game behind the Mainers in the North Division and tied with the Danbury Westerners and Valley Blue Sox in the wild card race. Their final six games will be played in a five-day span, including a makeup game Monday at home against North Adams and a doubleheader on July 28 against the Muskrats at Maxfield Sports Complex.

For what it’s worth, the Governor’s Cup, awarded to the winner of the season series between the Nighthawks and Mountaineers — the NECBL’s two Vermont-based teams — is tied at three games apiece and will be decided next Wednesday in Montpelier. The Mountaineers are 3-3 against the Nighthawks and 27-4 against all other teams.

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


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