Sanchez always on for Knights
NASHUA – You can always count on death and taxes, but here’s one more thing you can be certain about: Nashua Silver Knights leadoff hitter Matt Sanchez will get on base, some how, some way, in the game you’re watching.
Sanchez has been uncanny. Installed, with a few exceptions, as the leadoff hitter this season, he has reached base in every game, his streak now at 21 straight. He’s hitting .333.
At UMass-Lowell, he hit third, but the Knights have that leadoff thing going on for him.
“Here I have a different role, leadoff guy, so I’m just trying to get on base any chance I get,” Sanchez said. “I only want to swing at good pitches, I’m not going to swing at something that’s not going to get me on base.”
So his mentality hasn’t changed. He loves hitting leadoff now.
“I like it, I’m comfortable there now,” Sanchez said. “I have fun with it. When I was hitting lower in the lineup, like at five, around there, it was a little different. But now it’s more fun playing.”
Sanchez was recruited by the River Hawks as a kid enjoying the baseball weather in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. In his words, “I had an opportunity to come up here and just took it.” He’s not exactly coasting on his baseball acumen, either, studying mechanical engineering.
Sanchez has drawn an amazing 25 walks, where last year, while hitting .289 with 14 doubles and 26 RBIs, he walked 23 times. Most of that was hitting further down in the order. At last look he was leading the FCBL with an on-base percentage hovering around .520.
“Here my job is getting on base,” he said. “If it’s not a pitch I know I can hit, I’ll just take it. I’m not trying to draw walks, it’s just happening.”
Playing in Florida was fun, Sanchez said. “It makes it easier (with the weather),” he said. Likewise, it was a bit of a culture shock playing college ball in the relatively cold spring.
“One game at Yale we had snow on the warning track and ice in the dugout,” he said, chuckling.
Sanchez says he’s just putting it all together with the help he’s had.
“I’m just growing as a player,” he said. “That’s a lot of credit to my school. They made me who I am today. I’m just carrying over what I’ve learned from school and bringing it here.”
And he doesn’t want to stop with a college career, if he can help it.
“Oh yeah, that’s the dream,” he said. “That’s why I’m out here.”
Back in the late 1990s, early 2000s, he would come to Holman Stadium sometimes wearing his Little League uniform, wearing a big smile and gleam in his eye. Often he’d sit in the old brick press box, as excited as could be.
Now, he comes in an adult baseball uniform – that of the Worcester Bravehearts, as a matter of fact.
He is Brooks English, the son of none other than former Nashua Pride and current Brockton Rox owner Chris English of Milton, Mass.
He’ll be entering his junior year at the same school his father attended, Vassar College. Although he’s struggling at the start of the season with the Bravehearts (.154), the infielder has a great spring at Vassar, hitting .371 with 25 RBIs, starting all 33 of the games he played in. He was named Second Team All-ECAC Upstate New York as a designated hitter.
“It’s great to be back,” English said recently when the Bravehearts were in town. “The last time was probably 2004, 2005, when I was 10, 12.”
English loves playing in the FCBL.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s an awesome opportunity. It’s a great way to spend the summer for sure.”
English said he didn’t want to play for the Rox.
“I thought it would be weird to play for my Dad,” he said with a grin. “I’m trying to get away for a summer, you know?”
But it’s fun to play against the Rox, though.
“His team is awesome this year,” English said. “They’re stacked at Brockton.”
English looked around Holman and flashed a smile.
“It’s great,” he said, “to be back in this ballpark.”
The Bravehearts and English return to Holman for a special 11:05 a.m. Camp Day game on Wednesday, July 16.
Speaking of the Bravehearts, they suffered a big loss recently. Manager Alex Trezza, who had been a fan favorite as a player for the old Can-Am Worcester Tornadoes, left the team to take the head coaching position at Long Island University-Brooklyn, which is a Division I program. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis (likely for the rest of the season) by assistant coach Justin Edwards.
The Bravehearts seemed to expect it. Trezza, who played against the Pride and was often a thorn in their side, is a Brooklyn native.”
“We knew when we hired Alex we caught lightning in a bottle,” Bravehearts owner John Creedon, Jr. said. “Alex is the kind of leader and manager that any team wants in their dugout and clubhouse. His star isn’t just rising, it’s screaming.”
Who’s Hot: Besides Sanchez, gotta be outfielder Carson Helms, who is hitting a .366 clip, with three homers. The Knights now have him in the middle of the order which should raise that seven RBI total
Who’s Not: Sorry, Harry Oringer. The infielder from Endicott has played in all 21 games, but is hitting just .188. But he does have one more RBI than Helms with eight
A reminder the club will have post-game fireworks on July 3 at Holman. After that,there’s only, believe it or not, three more Friday Fireworks games left: July 18, Aug. 1, and the regualr season finale on Aug. 8….
Another believe it or not: Nashua returns to action Tuesday for what is its final game vs. North Shore this season, 7:05 p.m.at Lynn’s Fraser Field.