Silver Knights nail down playoff spot
NASHUA – There wasn’t much drama in the Nashua Silver Knights clinching a Futures Collegiate League playoff spot on Wednesday night.
No, not with a 34-11 record following their 4-2 win over the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs before an announced Holman Stadium crowd of 868. The fun, they say, is a week away.
“We’re pretty excited to (make the post season) two years in a row,” Nashua infielder Logan Gillis said. “But we’ve been rolling all year.
“The exciting part will be the first round of the playoffs. It’s going to be tough, because everyone will have their top arms and it’s only a best-of-three series, and we’re playing the first game on the road.”
There is one more step to take, as the team’s magic number to clinch the top seed is now at one – either a Nashua win or a Torrington loss. Nashua is at Seacoast on Thursday, while the Titans host North Shore.
While Silver Knights lefty Nick Poore (6-1) was his usual stellar self – one unearned run, nine strikeouts – Wachusett pitching’s one bad inning was for the Dirt Dawgs (7-37), despite the fact Nashua had just two hits.
“This was good to get, considering how anemic we were offensively,” Nashua manager B.J Neverett said. “You have to give (the Dirt Dawgs) a lot of credit. They’re not having a very good season, yet they’re still playing very hard.”
Actually, lefty starter Connor Ortolf belied his 0-6, 6.86 numbers coming in, holding the Silver Knights scoreless through the first four innings. But Ortolf and two other relievers couldn’t find the plate in the fifth, as six walks and a throwing error created four runs. The error plated a pair and then Chris Shaw and Jon Minucci each walked with the bases juiced to make it a 4-1 game.
Wachusett prolonged the game in the ninth, where Nashua reliever Matt Olsen issued a bases loaded walk to cut the margin to 4-2. But Cody Rocha came in and recorded two strikeouts for his ninth save.
Poore allowed just four hits, a walk and balked twice, but is now a winner in six straight starts. He has to be considered for a prime playoff start.
“We haven’t talked about (the playoff rotation) yet,” Neverett said. “But he’ll be pitching at some point..
It’s the home stretch for the Nashua Silver Knights and already there is some roster tweaking going on, some by necessity.
Two are down and one is up for the Futures Collegiate Baseball League-leading club, who entered Wednesday night’s game at Holman Stadium vs. Wachusett with third baseman James Katsiroubas (knee) on the shelf.
The club also lost valuable DH/infielder Eric White, who had to return to his home in Maine for personal reasons.
Enter Stephen Rodgers, a third baseman who hit .365 for Trinity College this past spring and also hit .311 in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League this summer. That season is done, and Nashua picked him up. A left-handed bat, Rodgers could prove to be invaluable.
“We were glad to be able to get him, especially being a left-handed third baseman,” Nashua manager B.J. Neverett said. “He’ll get in there and get his feet wet.”
White was a tough loss. In 15 games he hit .286, but Neverett said his personal reasons for having to go home “were all good.”
The key of course is Katsiroubas. The wear and tear of playing third got to him last Friday in Torrington, and Neverett plans on resting him.
Friday starter TBA
Whoever pitches Friday for the Silver Knights will be making his last start of the regular season. Neverett just isn’t sure whether it’ll be Lamarre Rey (3-1, 1.39 ERA) or Chris Good (5-2, 1.33 ERA).
“We’ll talk to them and see how they feel,” he said. “But that would keep either one on regular rotation for the playoffs.”
Alek Morency (4-1, 1.71 ERA) will likely go Saturday night at Holman while Hudson’s Travis Terrill (3-0, 2.61 ERA) will make the start Sunday at Pittsfield.
Rain out may be resumed
The Silver Knights led Brockton 7-3 in the top of the fourth before the game was halted for the night by rain on Tuesday. It’s possible, Neverett said, that the teams could be told by the FCBL to resume the game on Monday, an off-day for both, from that point. The Rox went into Wednesday at 22-22, a game out of the fourth and final playoff spot. “I suspect we might have to go back to Brockton,” Neverett said. “They may need the game.”
A look ahead
The Lowell Spinners and Silver Knights staffs have a little softball rivalry going. Nashua won 3-2 in one contest while Lowell took a 2-0 win. The rubber game could possibly be at Holman on Monday. Both teams’ VP/GM, Tim Bawmann, DH’d for both clubs.
The Silver Knights are expecting perhaps their biggest crowd of the year on Friday night, Jacoby Elsberry Bobblehead Night, as well as Fireworks Night. According to VP Jon Goode, already somE 1,700 tickets have been sold. On Saturday night actor/comedian Mike O’Malley has his Bobblehead Night and is expected be in attendance.
The team has put playoff tickets on sale.
The first playoff home game is likely to be Saturday, Aug. 12.