Knights’ Christopulos added to All-Stars; Dupere likely next
NASHUA – The stars will be out for the Futures Collegiate Baseball League next Tuesday at Pittsfield’s (Mass.) Wahconah Park, and unlike years past, the current FCBL administration acted quickly in naming 99 percent of the teams after team managers had sent in nominations and then voted on them Monday night.
Maybe too quickly.
The Nashua Silver Knights, while looking as if they may have been on the short end of the stick, will likely get as many as two players added to the event.
When the teams were surprisingly announced late Tuesday, Nashua had the fewest All-Stars named, all four on the “Pittsfield Electrics”. It was a good move by the league to name the teams after clubs to have played at Pittsfield’s Wahconah Park over or nearly a century ago. The other squad is the “Hillies”; the Electrics were an Eastern Association team in Pittsfield in1913-14, the Hillies were an Eastern League franchise in the 1920s.
It’s likely the Silver Knights’ struggles hurt them in the managerial vote. Neverett was hoping to get six players on the team, and making it originally were outfielder Kyle Sandstrom, catcher Dylan Jones and pitchers George Welch (Derry) and Bedford’s Pat Harrington.
His other two nominees, starting pitcher Evan Christopulos and outfielder Jared Dupere, didn’t make the original cut. But Welch has elbow issues and can’t participate, so the Silver Knights on Wednesday, according to general manager Dave Pahucki, in Christopulos’ name as a replacement.
But what about Dupere? It is highly likely he will be added as well as a “Commissioner’s Pick” by this weekend, but nothing is official as of yet. But the FCBL may have tipped its hand when in naming him as the Player of the Night for his 2 for 4, four RBI night in Tuesday’s 7-3 win over North Shore at Holman Stadium, it also mentioned him as an FCBL All-Star in its posting.
It’s deserving, as he has raised his average to .283 with six homers and 25 RBIs and an OPS of .881. The homers and RBIs have him second in the FCBL, one off the pace in each. You might say it was incredible he wasn’t originally chosen.
The other three position players Neverett nominated are certainly deserving. At last look, Jones was leading the FCBL in RBIs with 26, while in the top five in hitting at .337. Sandstrom has been one of the most consistent Silver Knights all summer (along with Jones), hitting .308.
As for the pitchers, Harrington, who will be a sophomore at Assumption in the fall, has gone 2-2, 2.48.
Christopulos is in the top five in wins in a multi-player tie at 3-3 after a no decision Tuesday night, and his ERA is a respectable 3.29. He’s among the league leaders in strikeouts as well with 35 in 32 innings.
The disappointment will be the loss of Welch, as it’s likely he’s done for the season.He was counted on in the bullpen and in nine appearances (15.1 innings) had allowed just eight hits and two earned runs while striking out 27, with an ERA of 1.17. But late last week he had a rough outing, and said his arm felt dead. The result appears to be more ulnar nerve/elbow difficulty, which sidelined him a bit this past spring at Saint Joseph’s of Maine.
“We’re just hoping it’s not bad,” Neverett said. “Not because for us to have him back, we’re just hoping it’s not bad for him down the road (in college).”
Thus it’s likely Welch won’t pitch the rest of the summer. He’s been in uniform and with the team, and said he’ll stay with the Knights until they need the roster spot. Hopefully he will attend next Tuesday’s All-Star Game so he can be introduced as he was originally chosen.
With the expected changes, it’s a bit more respectable that Nashua has as many as six players honored, but that would basically be the Knights’ limit based on the numbers.
But it’s interesting to note the numbers of players by other teams. Worcester has an incredible 11 players, while Pittsfield is next with nine. Bristol has eight, Brockton and North Shore seven. Even last place Westfield had more players named originally than Nashua with five.
There will be a Scout Day as usual at this year’s All-Star Game through the afternoon and Home Run Derby that is slated to begin at 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, nearly an hour prior to the scheduled 7:15 first pitch.
With shortstop Ben Cowles (Maryland) back to school, the Silver Knights have added a couple of new players, who happen to be younger brothers of former Knights. One is recent Bow grad Connor Blandini – he did some damage vs. Hollis Brookline in the Divsion II title game last month with an RBI triple – who is the brother of former Knights standout Tom Blandini, and headed to Southern New Hampshire University.
Another is infielder Phoenix Hernandez, who will be a senior at SNHU this season. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native is the brother of former Knight Gabriel Hernandez, who played on the 2013 team that made the FCBL finals but lost to Martha’s Vineyard.
“He actually started every day at third base at SNHU his freshman year,” Neverett said. “But his sophomore year he got beat out by Blando (Tom Blandini) because of his bat. … He hasn’t been playing full-time since his freshman year, but he’s been playing.”
Hernandez played in 27 games for the Penmen this past spring, but hit only .197 in 66 at-bats with a double and eight RBIs, plus 12 runs scored.
Hernandez was looking for a summer spot and was placed with the Keene Swamp Bats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, but in five games didn’t get off the bench and left. He made his Silver Knights debut Monday and has gone 2 for 5.
As for the younger Blandini, at last look he had played in seven games – he was at second on Monday – but was hitting .143 with a homer and five RBIs.
“I like him,” Neverett said. “He really grinds out some at bats. He’s a tough kid. I don’t know if. … We’re kind of in a tough spot. I don’t know if he was high school (grad) ready to come here and it for average. But his at-bats have all been good. He’s grinding out some outs.
“He and Tommy swing alike except he’s right handed. He’s had some good at-bats here, some tough outs.”
Pitching is hard to come by all over, but it gets even harder when this happens:
Bedford’s Joe Quintal, who joined Nashua earlier this week after being released by the Cape Cod League, pitched four pretty good innings Monday night in his first Silver Knights start. The Fordham junior allowed two unearned runs on just three hits. But it was, at least for now, his last start for Nashua.
Why? Let Neverett tell you:
“He got released, and he got home, we had him here to start, and then the Hyannis team wanted him back,” Neverett said. “So he’s going back to Hyannis. We’ll see what happens. He may end up back here. …
“It’s tough. There’s just no pitchers to bring in at this point.”
When is FCBL Commissioner Joe Paolucci going to make his first Holman Stadium appearance? The All-Star break is fast approaching, but the commissioner, who operates things out of his home in Weymouth, Mass., has yet to be seen here.
“I haven’t even met him,” Neverett said earlier this week. “I have lots to tell him.”
The Nashua Police and Fire Departments will hold their annual softball game prior to tonight’s Silver Knights vs.Worcester 7:05 scheduled game. The annual softball affair, set to begin at 4:30 p.m., raises money for the Nashua Police Athletic League (PAL).