Knights aiming for progression as season opens
Nashua Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett has one request for the team’s vibrant fan base:
"A lot of our guys are missing because of college tournaments," Neverett said as his team enters its sixth season with the opener Wednesday against the Seacoast Mavericks at 6:35 p.m. at Portsmouth’s Leary Field.
The players still in college tournaments may be a testament to the work Neverett, returning as manager, did in the offseason in securing players from successful programs.
But the team he has is flexible enough to survive a lot of player shortages.
"You’re probably never going to see the same lineup two nights in a row," Neverett said. "The thing I like is we have a lot of guys who played multiple positions at their schools. I like our versatility right now."
And the Silver Knights may need that while they wait for some players, and that includes soon-to-be high school grads Sean Mooney, Gavin Hollowell (both pitchers from New Jersey) and Dante Baldelli (outfield). Some say Hollowell, with a scholarship to St. John’s, could get selected in the early rounds of next week’s MLB amateur draft.
Lefty Justin Roberts out of Stonehill takes the mound Wednesday night and after that Neverett and pitching coach Kyle Jackson have to work out their ideas.
"I’ll be interested to see how our pitchers do," Neverett said. "We’ll win every basketball game. We’ve got some big guys, 6-5, 6-7, I like that."
That includes St. John’s Jonathan Faraci, Nashuan Ricky Constant and Friday night’s Holman opener starter, Mike Geannelis (6-4). This could be a hard-throwing group.
The infield looks solid with the University of Hartford’s Chris Sullivan possibly at third to start, either Harry Roberson or Southern New Hamphire’s Manny Cruz at short, prodigal son Cam DiSarcina at second (he played with Martha’s Vineyard last year) and perhaps Giannelis at first. Cruz’s future with the team is clouded because he hit near .400 with SNHU and will likely be drafted and sign this summer.
Wednesday likely sees Brett Evangelista (Londonderry, UMass-Amherst) in left, Northeastern’s Charlie McConnell in center and Cameron Cruz (Windham, Mesa Community College) in right. Injuries and players still in tournaments have hurt the outfield depth for now.
"We only have three outfielders right now," Neverett said, a situation that will change once the rest of the players arrive.
A potential outfielder, Luke Glancy (Tulane) had shoulder surgery, was redshirted and is on a throwing program but can serve as a designated hitter and should be in the lineup this week.
Either way, the battle is on to end what seems to be a drought of on-field success, although the Knights have made the playoffs all five seasons.
"It hasn’t really been a drought," Neverett said. "In five years we’ve been to three finals. … It’s not about just making the playoffs. It’s about finishing as high as possible in giving you the best position when you get to the playoffs."
And that will be hard, as the division – North Shore, Brockton (Nashua visits there Thursday night), Seacoast and Martha’s Vineyard – is extremely competitive.
"Brockton’s tough, and you’re going to see Seacoast with four kids from the University of Miami," Neverett said. "You’re going to see a lot of kids from Florida in this league. It’s going to be a challenge.
"There’s going to be some great baseball this summer."
And Neverett hopes it’s the Silver Knights and not the opposition that provide that.