Super Silver Knights summer of action set at Holman Stadium
NASHUA – The ledgers are being pushed aside. The legal papers put away. The sales contracts given a day off, for now.
Why? In the world of the Nashua Silver Knights, it’s time for baseball, not franchise sales, hirings and firings.
After a tumultuous off season of front office change after change, the Silver Knights begin the John Creedon, Jr. Ownership Era and are finally ready to open the Holman Stadium gates for fans and take the field for baseball, taking on the Brockton Rox at 6:45 p.m.
Yes, there’s a new owner, a new general manager (Dave Pahucki), but fear not, field manager B.J. Neverett is back with pitching coach Kyle Jackson and bench coach Jeff Dupont. Neverett the manager still had Neverett the VP of player personnel to get him the players for the 2019 season.
“Fortunately, the off-season didn’t affect me a lot,” Neverett said. “For me it was business as usual putting the team together. I’m obviously ready to go and excited about the new group.”
The players arrived on Monday, but there was no outdoor workout Tuesday due to the rain.
The on-field goal: Improve upon a 21-33 2018 season that ended with a one-run, first round loss to Brockton in last August’s Futures Collegiate League playoffs after back-to-back titles the previous two
“I like our age compared to last year,” Neverett said. “You’ve got guys who all started on their college team. You don’t have bench kids coming in.”
The players, coming off their college seasons, are set to go.
“Nothing better than Holman in the summer,” Nashua native and Silver Knights pitcher Spencer Bergeron said. “Under the lights, baseball, your hometown, nothing better than that.”
Here’s a look at some key players on the roster and where they may be for Opening Night
There’s a local flavor, mainly in the bullpen, where Souhegan alums Owen Batchelder (Northeastern) and Joe Grassett (Hartford) plus Nashua North alum Spencer Bergeron there.
University of Maryland’s Daniel O’Connor (1-0, 8.79, 14 IP), Wheaton’s Griffin Young (6-1, 1.87, 62 strikeouts in 57.2 innings), Eastern Connecticut’s John Parker (5-6, 6.10), Bentley’s Evan Christopulos (4-1, 3.22), Danny Gracia (1-4, 4.31 in his freshman year) from Franklin Pierce are among a pool of possible starting pitchers. Remember, its usually a six or seven man rotation, giving an arm a start a week.
Neverett wasn’t ready to name a starter for tonight. “We have to see who is most ready for pitch, just go with them first and let the other guys kind of get warm,” Neverett said.
Bedford’s Manny Ray has been a roster addition, set for his third Silver Knight season. But a reliever to watch is Wheaton’s Josh Roberge, who pitched 10 innings out of the pen this spring. “He’s a gamer, this kid,” Neverett said. With 20 pitchers, there’s a lot to fill roles.
There are three catchers with returnee Dylan Jones (Franklin Pierce) getting the nod tonight. The other two are Jack Arend of Bates and Saint Anselm’s Max Silverman. Jones this spring caught 44 games and hit .242 with two homers and 17 RBIs.
The double play combo won’t be exactly what was envisioned two months ago. University of Maryland infielder Tommy Gardner tore up his shoulder so that leaves shortstop
Ben Cowles (.200, 3 HR, 15 RBIs). The University of Maine’s Joe Bramanti, one of the few Nashua returnees .(296, 3 HR, 31 RBIs) will play first, and URI sophomore Josh Brodeur (.273) perhaps starting at second. Third base is wide open, because Neverett may move Northeastern’s Jared Dupere to center field because the team is short of outfielders. Perhaps Stonelhill’s Noah Lucier (Sandown) could get the nod tonight.
A lot will hinge on whether Babson outfielder Jake Oliger, currently competing in the Division III World Series, can play. He has a shin injury, is playing, but Babson wants him to undergo an MRI before clearing him for summer ball. “I’m concerned,” Neverett said.
URI’s Billy Butler (12 games as a freshman) and Charleston Southern’s Kyle Sandstrom will likely flank Dupere, who hit .156 but had four homers in 90 at-bats for NU as a freshman in right/left.
Gates will open tonight at 5:45, the first 500 entering the park receiving magnet schedules. There will also be a postgame fireworks show.
There will be some new items on the concession menus, and new management is intent on better flow with lines. Fans will notice the protective netting around the stadium bowl. Also, the Kids Area down the left field line will have some new inflatables. Across the diamond, the deck next to the team offices, just off first base, will feature live bands for at least 10 nights.
The last time that happened for a Holman franchise was with the Nashua Pride under the John Stabile ownership 2006-08.