Tuesday, June 29, 2021
When a bunt hits the infield dirt at Holman Stadium, it always rolls foul. The Pittsfield Suns didn’t know that.
Lucas Carmichael’s bunt in the bottom of the 10th was perfect for that reason. The ball, moving slower than Carmichael out of the box, rolled ever closer to the foul line as its originator dashed towards the first base bag. The pitcher picked it up and threw to first, but the ball missed the fielder’s glove and continued its path into right field.
Carmichael continued his own path around the bases and all the way into left field. His teammates chased after him. He walked it off, 5-4.
The picture-perfect bunt completed a picture-perfect day for the Nashua Silver Knights, who came roaring back from a 4-2 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to tie it, send it to extras and win.
It had been a long and laborious day for Nashua, who exited a five-game road-trip only to enter 100-degree heat at Holman Stadium. The team’s offense, which had scored four or more runs in five consecutive games for the first time this season, was nowhere to be found in the early innings, only getting on the board in the seventh inning.
Even with Nashua creeping up in the final innings, the Suns inched ever further. A home run in the eighth made it 3-1, and after Nashua scored one on a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the bottom half of the frame, Pittsfield scored another to make it 4-2.
But miraculously, the Silver Knights came back. It extends their streak of four-run games to six, dating back to Nashua’s 9-8 loss to the Worcester Bravehearts on June 24.
“There was a different vibe in that clubhouse,” manager Kyle Jackson said about the June 24 game. “Even in the dugout, a lot of tension was gone. It was like, alright, let’s start doing things.”
The 10th inning was a perfect example of what Jackson wants the team to do — play for the team, not themselves. Swing for singles, not for the fences. The lineup has taken that approach in stride over the past week and it showed again on Tuesday, Jackson said.
“As long as we take team at-bats, team approaches, everyone trying to stay within themselves and what they can do and trusting the guy next to you, it’s all gonna play out in the end,” Carmichael said.
Nashua wouldn’t have been in a position to win if it weren’t for Griffin Young, who muscled through command issues early on to pitch 7.1 innings of three-run ball. While he hit four batters — including two back-to-back in the second, when Pittsfield scored two — he struck out five and only gave up four hits.
He did give up a home run to Pittsfield first baseman Nick Romano in the eighth inning, which was the last batter he faced, but Jackson said he was only at 82 pitches heading into the inning and was cruising until that point. Even the home run was on a 2-2 changeup.
“The offense finally caught up to the pitching tonight,” Jackson said.
The defense wasn’t too shabby, either. The Silver Knights made only one error — a misplay up the middle by shortstop Connor Hujsak — and completed two quick grabs on line drives, one by Young and another by third baseman Sam McNulty.
Nashua is playing better than they have all season, but it’ll take a lot for their efforts to be enough. Twenty-nine games into the season and 20 losses deep, the Silver Knights have 40 games left to break even at .500 — let alone think of a playoff run.
It’s practically out of the question. But ignoring the fanfare of the standings, the product on the field has improved. That’s a start.