Silver Knights putting playoff plans in place
NASHUA – The Nashua Silver Knights don’t know when and where they may play their Futures Collegiate League first round playoff game next week, but they know who is pitching.
Before their 6-4 win over the Brockton Rox on Wednesday in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader at Holman Stadium – the second game was rained out – Nashua manager B.J. Neverett and piching coach Kyle Jackson revealed Evan Christopulos (Bentley University, Andover Mass.) will get the nod in the first playoff game.
If the Silver Knights win that game and advance to the semis, Bedford’s Pat Harrington will get the nod in the first game of that best-of-three series. Then it would be Nolan Collins in the second game.
Christopulos was an FCBL All-Star, and is 4-4, 3.42 with 54 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 50 innings. He took the loss in a 6-1 defeat the other night at Pittsfield, but didn’t pitch badly at all, giving up three runs on three hits, fanning five and walking one in five innings. That’s called keeping your team in the game.
“His command has gone 10 times better this year,” Jackson said. “We’ve kind of worked on his composure and staying within himself.”
“I’m excited,” Christopulos said. “I know it’s going to be a lot, we’ve been going through a lot of ups and downs this season. … I love the pressure and everything, it’s awesome.”
Harrington, meanwhile, has been a workhorse for the Knights, second to Christopulos in innings at 43, with a 2-4 record but a current rotation-best ERA of 3.14. The soon-to-be Assumption sophomore has struck out 44 in 43 innings with just 13 walks issued.
Collins, meanwhile, has been a relative newcomer, with four starts and a 1-2, 4.95 mark. The Ranchos Palos Verdes, Cal. Native will be a Bates senior and has been hit a little bit, giving up 30 hits in 20 innings.
Meanwhile, it’s all up in the air as to where and when the Silver Knights, now at 24-27 with three games left – including tonight’s home regular season finale vs. North Shore — would play. There was unofficial word Wednesday that if North Shore and Brockton’s two games vs. each other that were postponed would affect the standings if played, then the two may play a doubleheader on Monday, pushing the start of the playoffs to Tuesday. But all that is way off.
“There’s a long way to go in a short time,” Neverett said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Where would Neverett like to play a first round game? He knows where he doesn’t want to play – at Pittsfield or Bristol, both long rides.
“Honestly, the true answer is I don’t want a two-hour bus ride,” he said. “Wherever the game is is fine because we know we can beat anybody. And get beaten by anybody. We’ve proven that, we’ve beaten everyone in the league; it’s not like we can’t. But we’ve made four two hour trips in a week.”
Neverett knew this past week would be a rough stretch because the team was on the road due to the state Senior American Legion tournament being held at Holman. Road trips to Worcester, Bristol, Lynn and Pittsfield were taken and Nashua lost all four games.
“Places where we have trouble playing, and when it’s late in the season, you have those long trips, that’s when the kids are starting to (check out),” Neverett said.
True to Neverett’s thinking about wanting to play at home, the Silver Knights, with a young lineup, held off Brockton yesterday before announced Camp Day crowd of 856 thanks to No. 9 hitter Barry Walsh’s three run homer in the bottom of the second that gave the home team a 3-1 lead.
After Brockton tied it in the top of the third on B.J. Murray’s two-run homer, Nashua scored another three in the bottom half, keyed by a Brockton infield error off the bat of Jared Dupere that plated two runs. Dupere eventually scored on an Alex Lane groundout.
Nashua native Spencer Bergeron started and went 3.2 innings to get the win in the seven-inning affair, giving up four runs on five hits. Bergeron is now 2-2, 3.41 on the season after making five starts in 13 appearances.
But the other key was Nashua got scoreless relief from Jimmy Fahey and Jack Pawloski the rest of the way.
“The young guys did a great job,” Neverett said. “Certainly Barry Walsh’s home run was a big blow, it ultimately being a game-winner for runs.
“And the pitching did well. We lost four in a row, but in all four games we pitched well; we only scored six runs in some 30 innings. That’s the reason why we got beat in those games. … We’ve been disappointed losing close games because we didn’t hit.”
Unless the Silver Knights win their one first round game, tonight’s game will be their final one at Holman Stadium this year. Before the game, there will be “Summer of Cisco Cornhole Tournament” at 6 out in the left field picnic area (beyond the brick wall) and also live pre-game music on the deck just off first base.
Nashua goes into tonight’s game averaging 1,207 fans a game (25 dates), which trailed last year’s average by a little over 300 a game. Not unexpected, given new ownership/management’s late arrival. As general manager Dave Pahucki said on Nashua’s E-TV broadcast yesterday, “We could use eight months instead of eight weeks.”
Which they will have with an entire off season under the same ownership/management.
After tonight, Nashua wraps up the regular season at Worcester on Friday and North Shore (Lynn) on Saturday, both night games. The Silver Knights have Sunday off, but other six teams in the FCBL will be playing that day.