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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Silver Knights bark past Dirt Dawgs, 7-5


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Staff Writer

NASHUA - Nothing like a bunch of canines in the ballpark to make the Nashua Silver Knights' bats bark.

The team came into Saturday night hitting a collective .231 but pounded out 11 hits en route to a 7-5 win over the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs on "Bark in the Park Night" at Holman Stadium, as fans were encouraged to bring their dogs to the game. Yes, there were a few among the announced crowd of 1,234.

"Early on I think I counted four two-out hits," Silver Knights manager Ted Currle said. "I think that's huge."

It wasn't easy, though, as Nashua battled back from an early 3-1 deficit and then coughed up a 5-3 lead. But in the end, the Knights evened their mark at 4-4 in what appears to be perhaps the most competitive Futures Collegiate League season of the four thus far.

With the score deadlocked at 5 in the bottom of the seventh, the Silver Knights grabbed the lead for good with two runs when, with one out, tough Wachusett reliever Evan Mackintosh (0-1) plunked Jimmy Ricoy, who advanced to third on pinch-hitter Joe Napolitano's bloop single. He came home on Harry Oringer's suicide squeeze and Pat Florence's base hit scored Napolitano with a nice insurance run.

"They were playing no doubles and Napolitano blooped one in," Currle said. "Jimmy made a great read; he's a good base runner (in getting to third)," Currle said. "Then I put the squeeze on and they executed it great. And Florence, that was another two-out hit and a big insurance run."

Brandon Walsh (1-0) picked up the win with 1.2 innings of one-hit relief while Travis Landry pitched the ninth for his second save. That may be a late inning combination seen often.

"Our bullpen pitched great," Currle said. "They looked pretty comfortable there in the eighth and ninth so hopefully we can continue to use them with a lead."

Before they got going, though, the Knights and starter Sam Nepiarsky had spotted Wachusett a 3-1 early lead. Tony Rallo singled in a couple of runs in the first, and Kurtis White hit a solo homer in the second.

The Silver Knights responded with Matt Mottola's RBI single in the first off Dirt Dawgs starter Connor Smith and Matt Sanchez's (4 for 4) single in the second that produced two runs, the latter on an errant throw home, making it 3-3.

It looked as if Nashua would be on its way when Florence smashed a first pitch solo homer down the right field line, the ball banging off the wall where Jackie Robinson's retired No. 42 sits, for a 4-3 lead. Florence looked good in the team's annual scrimmage against the Lowell Spinners a few days ago so Currle gave him the start behind the dish and he responded with two hits and two RBIs.

"He hasn't gotten as many opportunities as some," Currle said. "He swung the bat well at Lowell the other night so we stuck him in there. He took advantage of his opportunity and that's what we want these kids to do."

Michael Pearson added an RBI single later in the inning for a 5-3 advantage.

But Dirt Dawg Mike Corin knocked in a run in the fifth, Nepiarsky's final inning, and Richard Fecteau singled in a run on an 0-2 offering from former Trinity ace Carmen Giampetruzzi in the seventh to knot things at 5.

Currle, though, wasn't worried.

"I liked that we had a bunch of righties coming up against their lefty (Mackintosh)," Currle said. "We had a pretty good workout before the game, both offensively and defensively. ... Hopefully we can continue it (on Sunday)."

There likely won't be any four-legged creatures on the bus to Pittsfield, Mass. Sunday for a 4 p.m. Father's Day game, though, so the Silver Knights and their bats will be on their own.