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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nashua Silver Knights top Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide

NASHUA – Friday night was one of those “bottle it up for safekeeping” for the Nashua Silver Knights.

The challenge will be for them to do just that. ...

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NASHUA – Friday night was one of those “bottle it up for safekeeping” for the Nashua Silver Knights.

The challenge will be for them to do just that.

Starting pitcher and Nashua native Jake Mellin spun a masterpiece with seven innings of five-hit ball, and the Silver Knights delighted the franchise’s largest announced Holman Stadium crowd ever of 3,020 with a 6-0 win over Old Orchard.

“It starts with starting pitching,” Silver Knights manager Ted Currle said. “And you need big hits in big situations, and we got that tonight.”

The win, coming off the heels of a frustrating loss to Wachusett the night before, puts Nashua back over .500 at 19-18.

“Today we really wanted to have fun,” said outfielder Matt Sanchez, who homered and drove in two runs. “And winning is always fun.”

Mellin’s big key: He didn’t walk a batter, fanning six, a big change from recent Silver Knight pitching outings. Old Orchard’s Raheim Cooper led the game off with a single, and wound up at third with a steal/error with nobody out and was stranded.

“This crowd, seeing all these fans out here gave me a boost of energy,” said Mellin (1-4), the University of Hartford hurler who makes no secret of how much he loves pitching at Holman. “I know we needed a good start, and I did my best and stuck with my fastball.

“Giving up a run in the first inning wouldn’t be a good start for anybody, so I tried to stay calm.”

Nashua then helped Mellin out with three runs in the first off Raging Tide starter Dakota Edwards (0-4) thanks to two walks, an RBI groundout off the bat of Ryan Sullivan, an RBI single by Carson Helms and a double steal.

Two walks and an RBI groundout by Sanchez made it 4-0 in the third and Sanchez picked up another RBI with a solo homer (his fourth) leading off the fifth for a 5-0 Nashua lead. Matt Mottola’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth finished the scoring vs. the 12-25 Raging Tide.

But for Mellin, this could change his season. And maybe his team’s, too. “The last few times here he’s pitched great like that,” Currle said.

“He was phenomenal. Great crowd … We hit the long ball a few times, got a couple of big hits. Big night, big win.”

Shining stars

During the fourth inning, the Nashua Silver Knights All Star selections were announced: pitchers Sam Nepiarsky and Travis Landry, catcher Brandon Walsh, infielder Mike Pierson, outfielders Sanchez and Helms, and first baseman Jimmy Ricoy.

The game, pitting East vs. West, will be held on Thursday at Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium.

Pitching in

What has Nepiarsky, Saturday’s starter vs. the Seacoast Mavericks at Portsmouth (6:35 p.m.),done that the other Silver Knights hurlers hadn’t before Mellin’s big performance? Simple. He has thrown strikes.

“He just pitches ahead,” Currle said. “Pitches to contact. And when he’s ahead like that he gets a lot of strikeouts.”

Nepiarsky, out of UConn, is 4-0, 2.58 with 33 strikeouts in 38 innings.

Notes

SEE YOU SOON: The Silver Knights are back home for a 2:05 p.m. Sunday, again against Mike Giannelis (3-1, 3.90) will take the mound on Sunday.

Monday is an off day but the Knights will begin the week at home on Tuesday with the return of Wachusett.

HE’S OK: The good Lucas Olen is back: After a bad outing in Worcester on Tuesday, he tossed two innings of one-hit relief Friday, fanning three and was awarded a save.