The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks defeated the Upper Valley Nighthawks 4-3 in extra innings on Wednesday. In his NECBL debut, left-handed pitcher Camron Hill (Georgia Tech) celebrated his 19th birthday picking up the win. He threw three scoreless innings in relief, with six strikeouts. First baseman Ryan Nicholson hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth to win the game.
“I knew my time was gonna come,” Hill said. “My mindset was to give our team an opportunity to win. Get outs as quickly as possible. I was hoping we could get the bats rolling a little bit. We did, and we got the win.”
The Nighthawks took game one of the doubleheader (seven innings) 3-2. With the Sharks facing the same fate in Game 2, Hill took the mound in the sixth inning and went to work. He struck out a pair to retire the side in order. He then struck out two more in the seventh to keep the deficit 3-2.
Facing a sweep at home, outfielder Harrison Brown sparked the Sharks offense. He crushed a 98-mph leadoff double to the wall in the bottom of the seventh. After advancing to third, the Nighthawks brought the infield in. Nighthawks second baseman Ty Kaufman made a diving stop on a grounder up the middle, but his throw was too late, as Brown scored to tie the game. Nighthawks pitcher Tyler Legere escaped the jam to force extra innings.
With new life, Hill retook the mound in extras for a third inning of work. Grunts after his pitches were now audible from the press box.
“It set in that it was a really big spot,” Hill said. “There was a runner in scoring position right off the bat. Couldn’t let that guy score. I had to make it known that I was ready to play.”
According to NECBL rules, each team starts with a base runner on second base in extra innings. After a wild pitch and a walk, Hill faced a situation of runners on the corners with no outs. He induced a fielder’s choice to Nicholson off the bat of Nighthawks catcher Nick Fazzari. Nicholson fired home, catcher Matt Maloney applied the tag, and Kyle Novak was the first out of the inning.
The grunts grew louder. Hill struck out Johnny Decker on three pitches for the second out. On the loudest grunt of the night, Hill overthrew a 1-2 pitch to the backstop against Tyler Sorrentino. The Nighthawks runners advanced as Hill put two in scoring position with two outs. The Sharks called a mound visit after the wild pitch.
“They really just took the time for me to catch my breath,” Hill said. “Collect myself a little bit, take a few deep breaths so I could go back out there and execute a pitch.”
Hill recovered, and fanned Sorrentino on the next pitch. He allowed just two baserunners in the outing: an infield single by Ryan Ignoffo in the seventh, and a walk to Kaufman in the eighth. His sixth strikeout of the night ended the scoring threat, and gave the Sharks a chance to walk it off.
“I was feeling good,” Hill said. “A little bit of relief, too. Those two runners didn’t score after the grunted overthrow. A mixture of emotions there.”
In the bottom of the eighth, Michael Snyder started the inning on second base, and advanced to third on a passed ball. He then scored the winning run on Nicholson’s RBI walk-off single. Hill celebrated his first NECBL win at his host family’s house.
“We had a birthday cake already there for me,” Hill said. “And after that, I went to sleep.”