Dramatic 10th-inning walk-off mints Knights first win
It all came down to a few feet, fair or foul, in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Nashua Silver Knights, still winless four games into the season, had clawed their way through a nail-biting pitcher’s duel and Kevin Skagerlind’s long line drive down the left field line was the deciding factor.
When the ball flew past the right side of the foul pole, the Silver Knights bench erupted in a moment of relief. Nashua defeated the Norwich Sea Unicorns 4-3 Thursday night, decisively putting away their early-season woes with one swing.
Actually, two swings. The Silver Knights had kept the game tied 1-1 heading into extra innings but allowed two Norwich runs with two outs in the top of the 10th. Down 3-1 with three outs left and the frustrations mounting on an 0-4 team, Lucas Carmichael drew a walk.
It set the stage for pinch-hitter Nick Perkins, who sent a ball over the right field fence to tie the game 3-3. In a season full of offensive frustrations, it was a godsend — and allowed Skagerlind his moment of glory one hitter later.
“I just saw Perkins sitting in the corner [of the dugout],” Silver Knights manager Kyle Jackson said. “I was like, screw it, Perkins, go hit for Noah [Lucier].”
“[Perkins is] always here, he always competes and he always has good BP,” Jackson said. “He’s been working on his swing.”
Skagerlind’s walk-off blast was miraculous in its own right. Skagerlind, Nashua’s lead-off batter, isn’t a power hitter, but he said he was sitting on a curveball after Norwich pitcher Tommy Hughes hung one earlier in the at-bat and hit it off the right part of the bat.
“I was just hoping it stayed fair,” Skagerlind said. “It was obviously nerve-wracking. I was standing there with the guys celebrating and everything.”
It capped off another strong night for Skagerlind, who hit a double earlier in the game. Jackson said Skagerlind has been one of Nashua’s most consistent hitters and the walk-off was “well-deserved.”
But in the early-goings of the match-up at Holman Stadium, it looked as though things would go south for Nashua. The Sea Unicorns loaded the bases in the second inning and again in the third, but Nashua starter Jack Beauchesne kept them from scoring.
Beauchesne, with 5.2 innings, one earned run, seven strikeouts and only one walk, had the best start of any Nashua pitcher this season.
“Our pitchers have kept us in every single game this year and our hitters just haven’t done well at all,” Skagerlind said. “We all just need to start hitting the ball harder and getting more knocks.”
The one run Beauchesne allowed scored after he left the ballgame in the sixth. It was the first run of the game for either team, with Norwich starter Brad Lombardi pitching into the seventh without allowing a run.
The one run Lombardi did allow before being taken out at 97 pitches was a home run to Nashua left fielder Kyle Hannon. It was the first of the three blasts that would deliver the Silver Knights their first win.
“Those losses, the energy in that clubhouse wasn’t too hot,” Skagerlind said. “After a win like this, hopefully we can keep the energy up.”
Jackson echoed his sentiment.
“These kids, they want to win,” Jackson said. “You can just see the joy in their faces to finally get that one win.”
Will this late-inning offensive explosion help the lineup get going?
“I hope so,” Skagerlind joked.