PAWTUCKET – After posting a 6-0 victory in the opening game of last week’s best-of-three Division II semifinal-round series with Westerly High, the St. Raphael Academy baseball team was unable to pick up another win that would have sent the Saints to their first championship series since 2004.
Instead, the Bulldogs came back to not only grab a 10-1 victory over the Saints last Wednesday at Vets Park, but also roll to a 10-0 mercy-rule win the following night at Westerly’s Cimalore Field.
The first game down at Westerly last Tuesday, June 7, saw SRA junior Jon Quinn pitch a two-hit shutout that included 11 strikeouts, but Quinn wasn’t available to pitch the next two days with the pitch count rules. There had been some early weather issues on Thursday morning, but there was enough time to get Cimalore Field ready for that night’s deciding game.
If that winner-take-all was moved to Friday, Quinn would have been available to pitch, noted Sorrentine.
“Quinn pitched great,” SRA head coach Tom “Saar” Sorrentine said after last Wednesday’s game. “Westerly hadn’t been shut out all year, and they had only lost one game. But he was right around the plate all day. He was money.”
Looking to sweep the series last Wednesday, the Saints sent freshman Cameron Force to the mound, but he went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out 10.
“Force pitched great,” Sorrentine said. “He pitched his heart out. He competes.”
It was a scoreless game through three innings, but the Bulldogs got on the board in the top of the fourth. Two errors by the hosts and a sacrifice bunt put Drew Bozek and Brayden Champlin in scoring position with one out, and Westerly pitcher Dean Pons Jr. followed with a single to center field to drive in Bozek.
“We had some errors on defense that cost us,” Sorrentine added.
But in the bottom of the inning, the Saints tied the score, when with one out, Jason Yany tripled to left-center, and with two outs, and left-handed hitting Andrew Rodriguez stepping into the batter’s box as a right-handed batter, Yany pulled off a daring straight steal of home.
“We kind of had (Pons Jr.) timed, so he really wasn’t paying attention to the runner at third,” Sorrentine said. “We had to go for it because we weren’t getting any hits and we had a strikeout before that, so I put Rodriguez up right-handed instead of left, just to screen the runner.”
But the Bulldogs, which will battle Narragansett in the D-II finals that are scheduled to begin tomorrow at Rhode Island College, reclaimed the lead in the fifth with a two-run double to deep right by Champlin, and after they added added another run in the sixth, they broke the game open with six runs in the seventh.
The Saints, who end their D-II season with a 17-6 record, only collected two hits off Pons Jr., with the other one being a double to left by Breen in the bottom of the sixth. Pons Jr. also ended the game with 11 strikeouts and three walks.
In the series opener, Breen and Yany each drove in a pair of runs, and Carson Dupras also collected a run-scoring single for the Saints, who scored four times in the top of the first and twice in the fifth.