Saints march back into first place

Saints march back into first place

St. Raphael Academy starting pitcher Adam Gomes picked up the win in Monday afternoon’s 6-4 victory over North Providence High, as he worked four-plus innings, striking out five batters and giving up four runs, six hits, and three walks. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
SRA gains edge over NP in rain-shortened Div. II-B baseball showdown

PAWTUCKET – This Division II-B baseball showdown between the top two teams last Monday afternoon started out messy and ended messy – with both teams combining for seven errors – but in the end, St. Raphael Academy was able to come away with a rain-shortened 6-4 victory over North Providence that lasted just 5½ innings.

The win also raised the Saints’ record to 13-3 and moved them back into first place for the first time in nearly a month. The Cougars took a small step back at 13-4, but they will get a second crack at the Saints today at 4 p.m. when both teams face each other in their regular-season finale at the Cougars’ home field.

But before the Saints set their sights on their rematch with the Cougars, they had to pay a visit to Scituate High on Tuesday afternoon to face the Spartans. If the Saints win both games, they will sew up the regular-season title and a bye in the single-elimination opening round of the D-II playoffs, which are expected to begin next Wednesday.
Monday’s game began at 4 p.m., with the sun shining and temperatures tiptoeing into the 80s. It was baseball weather, with two outstanding teams facing off on a newly seeded Vets Park, and it was also ‘Senior Day’ for the Saints.

But things eventually started to go downhill.

“Both teams were trying to give it away,” SRA head coach Tom “Saar” Sorrentine said. “Both teams really didn’t execute that well. It was a big game; you’d expect both teams to play at the top of their game, but neither team did. We were lucky to survive and win it.”

The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning off SRA starter Adam Gomes. Leadoff batter Tom Krikorian, who reached base four times with three hits and a walk, took advantage of the wind blowing out toward left field and lined a double over Cayden Dupras’ head in left field.

With two outs, P.J. Rioles was hit by a pitch, and with Pete Pimental at the plate, Krikorian stole third, and the throw there sailed into the outfield, allowing Krikorian to score.

But in the bottom of the second, the Saints went ahead, 2-1. Nolan Potter, who had two hits, led off with a single up the middle, and after he reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake LeFort, Dupras walked.

After both runners moved into scoring position on Ben Force’s groundout to second base, Ryan Sutherland ofted a fly ball to left field, but it was dropped, and that allowed Potter and Dupras to score.

But the Saints gave the lead right back to the Cougars in the third, and NP wasted no time in getting runners in scoring position, as Krikorian reached on an infield single and moved into scoring position when Ronnie Baccala drove a double into deep left.

Matt Mandeville then flied out to Gaspar in center. Gaspar fired the ball home, but instead of tagging up and trying to score, Krikorian went back to third. Baccala, meanwhile, was stuck in no man’s land between second and third, and when the Saints tried to throw out Baccala at second, the ball sailed into the outfield and Krikorian scored with ease.

Baccala later crossed the plate when Pimental, who also had three hits in the game, dropped a single into right-center field.

The weather threatened to become a problem, but the rain decided at this moment to stay away. The wind then picked up and the sun went behind some dark clouds, but they passed and play continued without pause.

The Saints regained the lead in the bottom of the third, 4-3, with Cam Wilson and A.T. DiPina scoring the runs on wild pitches by NP starter Dom Pontarelli. Wilson had singled to right and DiPina reached on a bunt hit that was fielded by the first baseman, but had no one covering first.

The Saints added an insurance run in the fourth on a throwing error, but in the top of the fifth, the Cougars loaded the bases with no outs on a leadoff walk to Mandeville and singles by Rioles and Pimentel.

Mandeville then scored on a wild pitch, and with a 2-0 count on John DeCarmo, Sorrentine opted to bring in reliever Cam Wilson to put out the fire. Wilson walked DeCarmo to reload the bases, but he got out of the inning by inducing a 3-2-4 double play and getting the next batter to tap out to the mound.

“Gomes was going good there for a while and then he kind of ran into a wall there,” Sorrentine said. “And Cam came in and did a good job. They had bases loaded and no outs, but he got that double play, and that was huge.”

In the fifth, the Saints made it a 6-4 game on a run-scoring single by LeFort, and as the contest became official, with five full innings, the weather started to turn again. The top of the sixth had one runner reach, Krikorian, but he was forced out at second, and Mandeville flied out to left to end the inning.

The Saints tried to get their at-bats in the bottom of the sixth, but thunder and visible lightning prevented that from happening. As people ran for cover and the umpires tried to wait out the storm, the rain came down in buckets, soaking the field.

Since the field was no longer playable, despite the fact that the sun was returning, the contest was over and the Saints picked up a very important win.

North Providence High runner Tom Krikorian, bottom, steals third base in the top of the first inning of Monday afternoon’s game, as the throw to the bag sails past St. Raphael Academy third baseman Nolan Potter. Krikorian came around to score the game’s first run, but the Saints came back to win the rain-shortened game, 6-4, and move into first place in the Division II-B standings.
St. Raphael Academy third baseman and number five batter Nolan Potter collected a pair of hits on Monday afternoon to help the Saints defeat North Providence, 6-4. Both teams will face each other again today at the Cougars’ home field.