Rox rally falls short in Silver Knights’ 11-9 Game 1 win

BROCKTON, Mass. – For the Nashua Silver Knights, the wait was worth it. But they could do without the tension, thank you.

Courtesy of rain, it took 48 hours to play Game 1 of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League semifinal series with the Brockton Rox, but the Silver Knights survived the rust and a frantic Rox rally to take their place in the driver’s seat of the best-of-three playoff thanks to Sunday’s 11-9 win before an announced 1,411 at Campanelli Stadium.

Brockton pounded out 19 hits off five Silver Knight pitchers, but when reliever Cody Rocha induced Brockton’s Luis Gonzalez to ground out into a force play at second with the bases loaded in the ninth, Nashua was given a 1-0 series lead. With a win in Monday night’s second game, scheduled for 7 at Holman Stadium, the Silver Knights will advance to the FCBL finals.

It will be Nashua lefty Chris Good (5-2, 1.58) versus Brockton’s Patrick Delano (1-0, 6.00).

“We definitely escaped,” said Nashua manager B.J. Neverett, his top-seeded Knights nearly blowing an 11-1 lead. “Even when it was 11-5, it felt like a one-run game. … We just couldn’t stop them. They had 19 hits against us. No one’s done that to us.”

“I’m proud of our guys,” Rox manager Jud Thigpen said. “They fought, they clawed their way back. … Hats off to them for showing a lot of character and guts.”

Nashua took an 11-5 lead into the eighth but the Rox closed to within two runs thanks to RBI hits by Sean Ryan, Mike Lupia (plus a throwing error) and Rob McCunney. With runners on first and third and two out, Joe Gallub lined out to shortstop Rays Roman.

It wasn’t always that close. The Silver Knights grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Connor Lyons and a two-run hit by Pat Devlin. Rox starter Mike Romano walked three in the inning, spelling his quick exit.

Singles by John Puttress and Stephen Rogers, plus a Rox error set up Roman’s two-run single past a drawn-in infield off reliever Craig LeJeune in the fourth. That gave Knights starter Nick Poore and the Knights a 5-0 advantage. Roman scored on a wild pitch to give Nashua a six-run cushion.

Chris Shaw then greeted the third Rox pitcher of the day, Christian Wolosik, with a first-pitch, two-run bomb over the fence in right to make it an 8-0 contest.

But Poore wasn’t sharp. He allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits over 52?3 innings, allowing a solo shot over everything in left center to Rox cleanup hitter Greg Baggett (3 for 3, two RBIs) in the bottom of the fourth. He also gave up RBI singles to Tanner Reibenspies (fifth) and Joe Gallub (sixth). The Salem lefty seemed to lose a little once the Knights had an 8-0 lead.

“We came out hungry,” James Katsiroubas (2 for 5, RBI) said. “Fortunately our pitching staff held it together long enough.”

Nashua added three in the fifth, Katsiroubas’ RBI single the highlight, and no one at the time thought they would be the winning runs.

The Rox closed the gap with single runs in the fourth and fifth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh and then their big eighth to close to 11-9.

Game 3 in other series

North Shore (Lynn, Mass.) evened its series with Torrington (Conn.) with a 9-3 win Sunday.

The deciding third game will be Monday night at Lynn’s Fraser Field.

Good strong at Holman

Chris Good hasn’t faced the Rox this year but the key for him will be he will be able to pitch at home. He is undefeated at Holman this season. Why?

“Anytime you pitch big, the fans are just awesome here, they recognize what you do,” he said. “The away starts, I can’t really tell you what it is. But pitching here, it’s comfortable here. I feel I can throw just about anything and be comfortable with it.”

Notes

A reminder to fans that purchased tickets for Saturday night. Those tickets can be used for Monday’s game. The team reportedly had a pre-sale of 600 for Saturday, so there could be a decent crowd on hand for Game 2.

There will be no break in between the semifinals and finals thanks to the two rainouts, unless one finalist is finished with the semis ahead of the other. As soon as both semifinals are done, the finals will begin with no day off.