Goldrick, Blandini spending summer with Nashua Silver Knights

  • Bow graduate Connor Blandini patrols second base for the Nashua Silver Knights during an FCBL game against the Bristol Blues on July 8 at Holman Stadium in Nashua. JASON ORFAO / Monitor staff

  • Bow graduate and Silver Knights second baseman Connor Blandini fires to first base for an out on July 8 in Nashua. JASON ORFAO / Monitor staff

  • John Stark graduate Derek Goldrick (center) watches his team play from the Nashua Silver Knights bullpen on July 8 during a Futures Collegiate Baseball League game against the Bristol Blues at Holman Stadium in Nashua. JASON ORFAO / Monitor staff

  • Bow graduate and Silver Knights second baseman Connor Blandini cracks a smile after  his team’s right fielder makes a running catch to retire the side during an FCBL game against the Bristol Blues on July 8 at Holman Stadium in Nashua. JASON ORFAO / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/16/2019 10:12:37 PM

The first time Derek Goldrick and Connor Blandini joined forces on a baseball diamond, they were still learning to love the game while picking up the fundamentals with the 10-and-under Concord Cannons.

About a decade later, the last two players to be named Concord Monitor Baseball Player of the Season are teaming up again for the Nashua Silver Knights.

“It’s cool to be playing with him one last time,” said Blandini, a recent Bow graduate who will suit up for Southern New Hampshire University next spring. “We’ve been good friends for our whole lives.”

Goldrick, a John Stark graduate who pitched for Division I Quinnipiac University as a freshman this spring, was happy to welcome Blandini to the team.

“It’s pretty cool, honestly. We played together for a while,” Goldrick said, noting they were travel-ball teammates until they were about 15 years old. “We always played each other in high school, so it’s pretty nice to be teammates again.”

The Silver Knights are one of seven franchises in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, which hosted its All-Star festivities Tuesday at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. Nashua has been a perennial power in the FCBL with four championships in the league’s first eight seasons. 

Goldrick and Blandini were both excited to join the team and they’re trying to make the most of the experience against strong competition.

“I want to get more exposure, more innings and get more comfortable playing at the collegiate level,” said Goldrick, who posted a 16.76 ERA in five appearances for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions. “In school I struggled a little bit and here I’m getting back in my rhythm and getting my tempo and becoming a lot better.”

Goldrick – a 6-foot-6, 230-pound right-handed reliever – earned his first win for Nashua in his last appearance on July 3. He entered with one out in the top of the seventh in the nightcap of a doubleheader and although one of his two inherited runners scored, the damage was limited when he induced a grounder to third to leave the bases loaded.

Nashua rallied for four runs in the bottom half of the frame and walked off with a 7-6 win over the Worcester Bravehearts.

“We ended up having a pretty awesome comeback and it was a nice feeling to get that win,” Goldrick said.

Two days later, Blandini registered a milestone of his own when he sent a 2-2 pitch over the fence in Pittsfield.

“I was in a little bit of a hole,” Blandini said, noting a slump before his first FCBL home run. “That felt pretty good to get a hold of a ball and put one out.”

The reigning BCANH Division II Baseball Player of the Year has been playing second base for Nashua, and there’s admittedly been an adjustment period. He’s trying to soak in as much as possible from his teammates and coaches so he can be prepared for the rigors of NCAA Division II competition at SNHU next spring.

“The jump was pretty big coming from the finish of my high school season and then right on to this team,” said Blandini, who’s hitting .143 (4-for-28) with seven walks, four runs scored, five RBI and a steal in nine games since debuting with Nashua on July 1.

“I’ve been learning a lot from these older guys that obviously have been playing baseball for a number of years more than me,” Blandini said. “It’s been an all-around good experience to get out there and play baseball.”

Goldrick has a 6.75 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 5⅓ innings. His ERA bloated from 3.00 to 7.71 after a rough outing July 1 against the Bristol Blues, but otherwise he’s fared well this summer.

Goldrick’s fastball has hit 95 mph on the radar gun, and his top priority is to find a way to consistently harness the heat.

“It’s fastball command,” Goldrick said. “Working in and out, up and down, working the corners is something I’ve been able to do, but I’ve also struggled with at times, so I’m trying to get a lot better with it.”

The opportunity to hone their skills and showcase the improvements throughout the summer is invaluable, but the day-to-day grind isn’t quite the vacation many students enjoy during the sweltering months between classes.

Sometimes the team doesn’t arrive back in Nashua from a road game until about 2 a.m. The players then have to drive home, only to be back at the park the next afternoon.

“It took a big toll on my body. I realized how much more tired I am,” Blandini said. “You don’t really have time to do anything else, but I enjoy it. I know I’m not going to be able to play for my whole life, so you can’t take these things for granted.”

The Silver Knights (20-20) currently rank sixth in the FCBL standings, but they’re only three games back of first place in a jumbled playoff picture. Nashua begins the second portion of its season on Thursday with a trip to Worcester before returning to Holman Stadium for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

“We have these three days off,” Goldrick said, “and then we get right back into it.”

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