Silver Knights clinch playoff berth with split

Staff photo by TOM KING The Nashua Silver Knights were all smiles as they celebrated their FCBL playoff-clinchng win, 2-1 Saturday over Pittsfield at Holman Stadium.

NASHUA – Midway through June, Nashua Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett was having his doubts.

His team was reeling at 3-12, and although it was early, being one of the six playoff teams in a seven team Futures Collegiate League didn’t seem likely.

“I had doubts when we were 3-12,” Neverett said. “I felt I had to do something, or I don’t know what I was going to do.”

Whatever was done worked. Saturday the Silver Knights edged Pittsfield 2-1 in the six-plus inning resumption of a suspended game to clinch their eighth FCBL playoff berth.

In the rain-delayed regularly scheduled game, Nashua, with a chance to clinch fifth, fell 6-3 in the nightcap, committing an atrocious eight errors.

The Silver Knights can still clinch fifth with a win vs. North Shore today or a Pittsfield loss at Bristol.

The hero of the playoff clincher was one of those players Neverett was waiting to arrive in mid-June, Exeter’s and incoming Boston College freshman Cody Morissette. The future Eagle lashed a double to plate Austin White – another in-season addition — from second with two out in the bottom of the seventh to snap a 1-1 tie.

“It’s a cool feeling,” Morissette said. “We went on a little winning streak (seven straight before a loss Thursday) to end our year.”

In the at-bat against Pittsfield’s Bryson Cafaro (1-4), Morissette stroked it to left center and White, who had walked with one out, scored easily. It was the shortstop’s 17th RBI of the year.

“We haven’t played much baseball the last couple of days, it was raining and raining,” he said. “But I got the timing down, got a pitch I could handle.”

Mr. Clutch.

“Absolutely,” Neverett said. “He’s been our best two-out hitter. If we had an MVP, and it wasn’t a pitcher, it would have to be him.”

The game resumed in the bottom of the third with the Suns up 1-0. Nashua left eight men on in the game, seven in scoring position, wasting a couple of opportunities until Jake Lebel boomed a 1-2 Cafaro offering high over the left field billboards. Lebel, another late June addition, leads the team with five homers and 23 RBIs.

“It was like I was watching that same movie,” Neverett said of the missed chances. “But (Lebel’s homer) helped. At least the attitude in the dugout was better.”

Mike White – the game’s original starter — picked up the win (1-3) on the mound, tossing a combined seven innings of one run, six-hit ball, including four scoreless Saturday. Cam Cruz, despite two walks, pitched a scoreless eighth and lefty Drew Farkas got the save despite giving up a hit in the ninth.

But White, who had his fastball working, set the tone.

“Really well,” Neverett said. “He did a great job. Cruz did a great job, and Drew hadn’t pitched in a while, that was a really good job by him. We held them scoreless.”

In the nightcap, which was delayed by rain for an hour, Nate Cormier tripled and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 Nashua lead.

But the relaxed Silver Knights committed five errors in the first five innings, Pittsfield scoring three in the second and two in the fifth off starter Manny Ray. The key blow was a two-out, two-run single by Vicente Mendoza. Nashua (21-31) is still percentage points ahead of the 20-30 Suns for fifth going into the final day today. Finishing fifth means a trip to Brockton for the play-in game Monday; finishing sixth would mean a trip to No. 3 Bristol.

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Attendance for the combined days of the suspended game was 1,710; the announced nightcap crowd was 1,430…

The Silver Knights announced the seat belonging to the late Bill Neverett, who passed away 10 days ago, will have a plaque placed on it in his honor…

The team also honored host families in a ceremony prior to the start of the delay…

The pink jerseys worn by the players for Breast Cancer Awareness in Game 2 plus the Salute to Service jerseys worn in Game 1 were auctioned off…

The Knights wrap up the regular season today at 5 p.m. vs. North Shore at Lynn’s Fraser Field, a game meaningless to them but possibly important to the Navs for the final spot…

Neverett announced that Brandon Dufault (4-1, 1.31) will start the playoff play-in game Monday night at either Brockton or Bristol …

In case you’re wondering, Nashua went 4-6 vs. Brockton, including 1-4 on the road, and 2-4 vs. Bristol, including 0-3 at Muzzy Field.