Silver Knights win wild one
NASHUA – Nashua Silver Knights pitching coach Kyle Jackson couldn’t have imagined his first game as acting manager on Tuesday night would be so filled with drama.
But Nashua’s 5-4 win over North Shore on Tuesday night before 554 at Holman Stadium featured not only John Toppa’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth but also three runner’s interference calls.
"I got hit with everything right at me," said Jackson, who filled in for manager B.J. Neverett, who was away for family reasons.
North Shore manager John Zazzo played the game under protest after the first interference call resulted in a double play and took away a potential run in the third. Another in the eighth possibly cost the Navigators another run with them trailing 4-3, although they rallied to tie the game 4-4 off Knights closer Jake Nelson (2-0) on Mike Dacunti’s RBI double. Dacunti was a single short of the cycle.
All that did though was set up Toppa’s heroics, the second time Nashua (8-3) has won at home in walk off fashion vs. the Navs. Cam DiSarcina reached on a throwing error by North Shore reliever Jake Dexter and went to second. Harry Roberson’s infield hit advanced him to third. Enter Toppa, expecting an off-speed pitch, who then roped a single to center to produce the win.
"We’ve seen these guys something like four times in five days," he said. "I was setting up slider, and he left it a little up. With (Dexter) throwing sidearm, it’s a tough matchup for anyone. It would’ve been tough if we had lost."
Nashua was trailing 1-0 thanks to a North Shore unearned run in the second off starter Drew Fischer (five innings, three runs) when it rallied for four in the third to grab a 4-1 lead. The inning featured RBI singles by Ryan Sullivan and Yani Thanopoulos off Navigators lefty starter Cam Lanzilli (UMass-Lowell). Anthony Fava drove in the fourth run with a bases loaded walk.
North Shore, however, came back with a run off Fischer in the fourth on Dexter’s RBI hit and another in the fifth to close to within 4-3 on Dacunti’s towering home run over the wall in right.
Ironically, the Navs earlier missed a run when Dacunti was called out for interference at first by home plate ump Mo Williams on a potential 3-2 double play. According to the rules, the ump has the discretion of calling the runner out as well, as he did to the Navs’ MacDaniel Singleton at home.
Clinging to a 4-3 lead, the Knights caught a break in the top of the eighth with a runner on second and nobody out. North Shore’s Nick DiBenedetto dropped down a bunt but was hit by the throw to first by Knights reliever Seth Pinkerton. The Navs’ Mike Dacunti, who led the inning off with a double, scored but was ordered back to second by home plate ump Mo Williams, who called Dacunti out for interference.
"The first one, he had his hands up," Jackson said. "The second one, if he’s running on the grass, they’re going to call that just about every time."
The other call on interference went against the Knights on a takeout slide at second on Thanopoulos in the eighth.
"Credit these kids," Jackson said. "No matter what happens, they find a way to get a win at home."
Jackson set the pitching for the rest of the week. Mike Geannelis goes Wednesday morning (10:30) at North Shore, bringing a 1-0, 4.65 mark to the mound. On Friday, Ricky Constant (1-0, 2.25) will go at Martha’s Vineyard.
Saturday, a pitcher the team signed out of the tryouts late in May, Joe Klingensmith (Stonehill College, 0-0, 9.00)takes the hill at Holman vs. Seacoast. Sunday it will be Plymouth State’s Taylor Doyle (0-0, 0.00) vs. Martha’s Vineyard.
The team has its annual exhibition vs. the Lowell Spinners on Thursday at Lowell’s Lelacheur Park at 6 p.m. Jackson said mainly the bullpen will be used, but any starters who are slated to throw on the side might be used for one of the seven innings.
Jackson said the team will skip lefty Jeremy Roberts’ spot in the starting rotation this week. "He’s had three starts in just over a week," Jackson said.
Jackson was thrilled to get his shot at managing a game.
"Ecstatic," he said before the game. "You don’t get many opportunities like this one."
The Silver Knights wore their special red, white and blue "Stars and Stripes" patriotic uniforms for Flag Day. They will be the usual Saturday uniforms but also are likely to be worn July 3 at Holman and July 4 at Pittsfield.