Silver Knights drop season opener after ninth inning call stunts rally
You decide: double or home run?
That’s the call the third base umpire had to make in the ninth inning of the Nashua Silver Knights’ 5-4 loss to the Worcester Bravehearts Thursday night.
Nashua’s Trey Ciulla-Hall smacked a ball to deep left-center field, bouncing off the wall and onto the warning track. But what part of the wall? Was it a clutch game-tying blast, or just a loud extra-base rally-starter?
The third base umpire decided home run, then the umpires convened and switched the call. It would stand as a double; the Silver Knights would go on to strand the tying run at third and lose their first game of the season.
“Off the bat, I honestly thought it was gonna find a gap and I was getting on my horse to try to get to second,” Ciulla-Hall said. “I get up [after sliding into second], I do my little celebration and I see the third base umpire give the home run sign. I was like, oop, cool, so I jogged around.”
Ciulla-Hall said the umpires got the call right, even though it denied him his second home run of the game. He homered in the first inning on the second pitch he saw in his young Futures League career.
Ciulla-Hall said he was sitting on a changeup and got a first-pitch fastball before connecting with the offspeed pitch.
“Everyone was talking about [Worcester starter Max LeBlanc’s] changeup,” Ciulla-Hall said. “He threw me a changeup that hung and I hopped on it.”
Before the confusing double in the ninth, the game had been a gritty, back-and-forth affair. Both teams racked up walks; the Silver Knights also struck out 18 times. Nashua left 12 runners on base, while Worcester left eight.
Nashua escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth to keep the game tied, but loaded the bases again in the sixth and gave up two runs. They were loaded yet again on three walks in the top of the eighth for the Bravehearts, who tacked on one more. The extra insurance run proved essential, when Nashua chipped in one in the bottom half of the frame to make it 5-4.
Silver Knights starter Nick Guarino—coming off a season in which he had an 1.12 ERA in 24 innings—pitched 4.1 innings and gave up two runs while striking out six. The bullpen collectively walked six and was charged with three earned runs.
Elsewhere in the Nashua lineup, Pat Casserly walked three times and Tyler Gonzalez singled and walked.
The Silver Knights will travel to Worcester tomorrow and Brockton on Saturday before returning to Holman Stadium Sunday. First pitch against the Brockton Rox is scheduled for 3:00 pm.
For Ciulla-Hall, he’ll be looking forward to his return to Holman.
“It was electric,” Ciulla-Hall said. “This is new to me … this is my first time playing in the Futures League. It’s great—I love it. It’s great to be a part of.”