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Silver Knights season comes to a tough 8-7 end

Staff photo by TOM KING Nashua's Jack Arend slides into second ahead of the throw to North Shore's John Rodriguez for a double during Monday night's first round FCBL playoff game at Lynn's Fraser Field.

LYNN, Mass. – End of an era.

Yes, the B.J. Neverett Nashua Silver Knights Era, both managerial and front office, concluded in a painful way Monday night at Fraser Field as the Knights bowed out in the first round of the Futures League playoffs, 8-7, at the hands of the North Shore Navigators.

Making it painful was the fact Nashua jumped out to an early 5-0 lead but were stunned when Logan Bravo hit a three-run bomb to center off reliever Joe Quintal in the bottom of the seventh, three of four unearned Navs runs in the inning for an 8-6 lead.

Stunner.

“It was a good swing he put on a good pitch,” said Neverett, who is retiring from the organization, “and golfed it out of here. And that was it.”

Indeed, it for the 2019 season. And thus the Silver Knights, who fought back to get to 27-27 by regular season’s end, lost in the one-game first round for the second straight season. The third seeded Navigators will head to face Bristol in the semis.

The Silver Knights, who closed to 8-7 in the top of the eighth on Navs reliever Beau Dana’s wild pitch, got that early lead with eight hits in the first two innings. Kyle Sandstrom had a two-run single in the first, and got three more in the second to knock out Navs starter Gavin Sullivan with a Dylan Jones sac fly and a Jared Dupere greeted reliever Tyler Fitzgerald with a two-run single.

But Fitzgerald, from Keene State and signed just a few days ago, held the Knights in check for the next 4.1 frames. It changed the game.

“He had us figured out,” Sandstrom said. “It’s tough to lose like that, but I thought we played well enough to win.”

However, the Navs got back into it off Silver Knights starter Evan Christopulos thanks to Connor Morin’s two-run homer down the right field line in the second, two hits and an RBI groundout by Dominic Freeberger in the third to make it 5-3 and an infield hit/subsequent errant throw by Luis Atiles in the fourth to close the Navs to within 6-4. Nashua had gotten a run on a passed ball in the top of the inning.

They ran their way out of a potential opportunity in the seventh as Sandstrom – who saved a run with a spectacular catch in the third – was caught in a rundown between second and third on a comebacker to the mound off the bat of Phoenix Hernandez. Hernandez was then doubled up straying off second.

It started a bad trend as the Navs took the lead in the bottom of the frame in an excruciating way from the Knights persepective. Catcher Jack Arend’s errant throw to first set up a pop Freeberger RBI single in between three Nashua fielders in short left to make it 6-5. Bravo followed with his homer.

“The errors cost us,” Neverett said of his team’s two miscues. “He (Bravo) wouldn’t have even come up to bat. … And that ball (by Freeberger) kept drifting away from the shortstop (Lucier).”

Despite the early lead, Neverett knew it would be a battle. “We held them to one run on Saturday and Bristol held them to three runs (Sunday),” he said. “I just knew, they’re too good a hitting team, the toughest lineup to get through in the league. It was just a matter of time.”

Dana got a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save of the season, and the Silver Knights’ ninth season came to a close.

And an era ended.

“I’m proud of the guys, they played well …. Their heads are up,and they should be” Neverett said. “You’ve got to give (the Navs) credit. They earned it.”

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Neverett had pitching coach Kyle Jackson coach third throughout the game. Jackson hopes to be a candidate to take over as manager next season…

FCBL Commissioner Joe Paolucci made an appearance at Fraser Field last night. Paolucci never made it to Nashua this season, as one game he was traveling to attend was rained out…

After the game, North Shore was presented with its share of postseaon awards. FCBL MVP was outfielder Sean Lawlor, who hit .351 with eight homers, 40 RBIs, 15 doubles and three triples, besides scoring 44 runs.

Dana (13 saves) was Reliever of the Year, and Navs skipper Mike Odenwaelder is being named Manager of the Year.