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  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Facebook - Grant Morris of the Nashua Telegraph

    Silver Knight's James Katsiroubas slides safely through third base as Martha's Vineyard's Josh Rouse drops the ball and tries to pick it up to finish the play during Tuesday afternoon's game at Holman Stadium in Nashua.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Silver Knights pitcher, Alek Morency, left, and first baseman Mark Sanborn nearly collide while chasing down an infield flyball during Saturday afternoon's opening day at Holman Stadium in Nashua.
  • Lexington (Mass.) High School baseball and hockey star Chris Shaw is Boston College-bound in the fall. This summer he'll be playing FCBL baseball for the Nashua Silver Knights.
  • Griffin Tewksbury, son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Bob Tewksbury, will be playing for the Nashua Silver Knights this summer.
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New additions key to Silver Knights’ FCBL title defense

Just because the Nashua Silver Knights won the inaugural Futures Collegiate Baseball League a year ago doesn’t mean an automatic repeat.

Not when the league more than doubles in size (from four to nine teams) and now that word is out that the FCBL is a quality league, competition for players is even tougher.

“It’s a crapshoot,” said Silver Knights field manager B.J. Neverett, who is also in charge of player procurement. “They’re all good players, and you have to get them to all play well together. The expectation that you have to win it every year is crazy, the rosters change every year. If we do well and make the playoffs, that will be saying something.”

And with more teams, the quality of player that is being attracted has been raised. With all the new owners and teams, Neverett said, “they mean business. They take it seriously. They want to make it a good league, and they want good players. Look at North Shore (Lynn, Mass.), they’re signing kids from Baylor, one of the top teams in the country.

“And look at our roster. We’ll have more Division I kids on our team than we did last year.”

Neverett, the former Nashua High School South coach, has been a fixture this spring at a few New England schools to try to get talent for not only this year but next year as well. The Silver Knights have nine players returning from last year’s title team, as some of the standouts and fan favorites such as UMass Lowell outfielder Matt Jacobs (a possible draft pick this June) and pitcher Eric Perrault (Keene State) have used up their eligibility after this spring.

So it’s been a busy off-season for Neverett, who still has some roster tinkering to do before the season opener at Pittsfield (Mass.) on June 7. Of the nine players back, a few of the most familiar names are former Nashua High School North pitcher Alek Morency, now blossoming as a reliever in his sophomore year at Merrimack College; pitcher Geoff Fisher of Londonderry who had to sit out the collegiate season due to back surgery, UMass Lowell infielder James Katsiroubas, an RBI machine for the Silver Knights last summer and the same for the River Hawks this spring (.344, 4 HR, 35 RBI), and Merimack’s Logan Gillis, who won the league batting title last summer and is currently hitting .316 with 36 RBI at Bentley College.

Other returnees, beginning with pitchers include Hudson’s Travis Terrill (Merrimack College), Bentley’s Lamarre Rey, and Bedford’s Sean Lyons, from Northeastern University. Catcher John Puttress (Northeastern) is returning as is outfielder John Minucci, who is hitting .302 with eight homers and 40 RBI for one of the best Division II teams in the country, Southern New Hampshire University.

Two interesting names are on this team this summer as well: Griffin Tewksbury of Concord via Bates College, who is the son of former major league pitcher Bob Tewksbury, and current Lexington (Mass.) High School senior Chris Shaw, a first baseman signed to Boston College next year and also signed to play in the Cape Cod League in 2013. He is one of a handful of incoming college freshman who are showcase players eligible for the FCBL this year; another is outfielder Rhett Wiseman, a prep schooler who is headed to Vanderbilt next year, the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2013, and will be in Brockton this summer for the Rox.

Tewksbury came via the connection with the Red Sox, with whom the Silver Knights owners, the Lowell Spinners, are a Class A affiliate as Bob Tewksbury is a sports psychology consultant for the Sox. “I remember him from high school, he played at Concord before spending his senior year at St. Paul’s,” Neverett said. “And he’s playing well for Bates.”

Neverett has used his connections from his South days to shore up his infield. He likes shortstop Kevin Nutter out of William & Mary, who is hitting .309 with just five errors. Neverett funneled players to W&M head coach Frank Leoni when Leoni was the head coach at the University of Rhode Island.

But there are three players that Neverett says will be crowd pleasers:

Rey, outfielder Pat Devlin out of UMass Lowell and outfielder Connor Lyons of Northeastern. Why?

“Rey (0-2, 1 save, 1.64 at Bentley) is as tough as competitor as there is, very intense,” Neverett said of the 6-3 Bentley sophomore. “Devlin (hitting .293 with 16 RBI for the River Hawks) is built right out of the same mold as Katsiroubas; in fact, he’s his roommate. He’s fast and he’s solid, he could play safety in football. Really a tough kid.”

And Lyons? Speed to burn in the outfield as Jacobs’ heir apparent this summer in center field. He’s stolen seven bases in eight attempts at Northeastern.

“I think people will really enjoy watching him go after a ball,” Neverett said. “He probably covers just as much ground as Matt did. When Northeastern had him and Sean (Lyons) in the outfield together, the joke was they needed really only two outfielders to cover the ground.”

High school fans might also recognize the name Nick Poore, the highly heralded left-hander from Salem who is a freshman this year at Boston College and could have a key role on the Knights staff.

In any event, it should be an interesting squad in a league that will only get better. Neverett feels that this time next year you will see a host of FCBL players talked about for the draft.

“One more year and you will be seeing that,” Neverett said. “And the quality of the pitching this summer will be way up. I think you’re going to notice that the most.”

Neverett, meanwhile, has enjoyed the different spring. “I haven’t gone to one high school game, but that’s because this year I’ve been going to college games. It feels like I’ve been living at St. Anselm College this spring because they’ve had so many home games. I’m taking names for 2013.”

Indeed, the roster building is ongoing. And this summer, Neverett will be living again at Holman Stadium, with a team that should be fun to watch.