Silver Knights in FCBL semis
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – In the playoffs, you never know who is going to come up big.
That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that Tom Blandini, the No. 9 hitter in the Nashua Silver Knights lineup, is the unlikely hero of Tuesday night’s stunning 5-2 Futures League first round elimination playoff win over the Pittsfield Suns before 2,740 at Wahconah Park.
Blandini’s 305-foot line drive off the right field foul pole snapped a 2-2 tie in the seventh vs. Suns reliever Austin Wendt. The Silver Knights, who banged out 12 hits, were set to host No. 2 Bristol in Game 1 of a best-of-three semifinal round Wednesday. at Holman Stadium. Games 2 and, if necessary, are scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Bristol, Conn.
“Blando hit the foul pole,” Silver Knights manager B.J. Neverett said with a chuckle. “He’s got that kind of pop sometimes.”
“It looked like it was tailing foul, and then it hit a little part of the foul pole,” said Blandini, whose homer was his first of the year. “A little luck on my side.
And Nashua moves on. The Silver Knights escaped a ton of trouble throughout, as Pittsfield left 11 men on base, and runners in scoring position in six innings.
Nashua wasn’t done in the inning against Wendt. Ted Williams then reached on an infield hit and scored on Cam Cook’s RBI double. Anthony Meduri doubled Cook home and Nashua looked in control, up 5-2.
“When we tacked on those two runs, that was pretty big. It didn’t deflate them, because they kept fighting.”
Reliever Cam Cruz got the win with two scoreless innings.
He preserved the lead, pitching out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh.
Ryan Sullivan caught Sean Phelan’s sharp liner at first and Ryan Arena grounded to short to end the threat.
Jason Johndrow and Kyle Murphy also pitched scoreless frames, Murphy getting the Suns Sean Phelan to ground into a game ending double play with two on to earn the save.
“The pitchers pitched very well,” Neverett said. “We got into some jams because they’re good hitters, very good hitters. They let us off the hook. But we let them off the hook as we hit into three double plays. It could’ve been 8-2. We really dodged a bullet there.”
Things were going the Silver Knights’ way through the first four innings as they had a 2-0 lead. Starter Anthony Lupi pitched his way out of trouble a couple of times but in the fourth he gave up a two-run homer to left to the Suns No. 9 hitter, Conor
Moriarity. To make hurt even more, it was Moriarity’s first homer of the year.
But that would be all the Suns would score on the night.
The Suns (nine hits) threatened after Colin Duffley replaced Lupi, issued two walks and then proceeded to strike out the side.
Nashua got its 2-0 lead when Ryan Sullivan singled to lead off the second and eventually scored on a wild pitch. The Knights grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third helped by two suns errors and an RBI single by Anthony Meduri.
Nashua played defense too. Center fielder Luke Tyree made two great catches in the fourth inning, one against the center field wall robbing Zach Smith of extra bases, and another dive to his left to rob Scott Holzwasser of the same.
“The one against the wall was incredible,” Neverett said. “And it’s kind of funny, a couple of times during the year I got mad at him because he wouldn’t dive.”
But the Silver Knights are doing whatever it takes to win now.
“The kids are fighting,” Neverett said. “That’s the way they’ve been all season. I’m not surprised.”
Not even about the Blando Bomb.