WAKEFIELD—After a disappointing loss in their season opener the Prout baseball team bounced back with an 11-1 victory over Tiverton in five innings Saturday.
“It’s a good day for Prout,” said Crusaders coach Mike LaBarbera. “We’re going to hit, it’s no secret… Certainly, a couple things didn’t go Tiverton’s way. We’re not as good as the result today and they certainly aren’t as bad.”
By the end of the game they were clicking but it was a sloppy start for the Prout bats.
Though they were driving the ball, recording seven hits through the first three innings, the Crusaders struggled with men on base and stranded a total of seven
runners during that time.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead, the giant awoke in the fourth and the Crusaders piled on seven runs to put an insurmountable distance between themselves and the Tigers.
“We have not executed offensively the way we’d like,” commented LaBarbera. “It’s early in the season.
“...We have a lot of brand new, first year starters. I’m sure they’re nervous. I’m sure there are some jitters. It’s not coming from me, but the reputation of Prout baseball puts some undue pressure on these kids sometimes.”
There was one new face to the Prout squad, however, that did not seem to get overly rattled.
Freshman lefty Mason Feole took to the mound to start the game and kicked off his high school career in fine fashion.
“Kind of nervous in the beginning, but kind of settled in,” said the freshman of his performance. “[I threw] pretty good. I wasn’t getting on top of my pitches, wasn’t finishing, but kept trying to mix it up.”
Feole struck out the first batter he faced in his high school career and was off and running.
After giving up Tiverton’s only run in the second inning, things looked as though they were on the verge of falling apart for the young left-hander in the third.
With just one out in the inning, the Tigers strung together three straight singles to load the bases.
The Crusaders pitching and defense, however, tightened up and escaped the inning unscathed after another strikeout by Feole and a fly out to left.
“Mason did well,” LaBarbera said. “I’d like Mason to get ahead in the count a little better but all that being said, he is a freshman.
“It’s the first time he’s pitched in a league game and he showed a lot of guts coming back from counts and throwing some good, two strike pitches.”
After Prout added another two runs in the bottom of the fifth, the game was called with the home team leading by 10.
Feole’s line ended as a complete game, giving up just one run with six strikeouts in five innings pitched.
His team’s pitching and defense were the concerns for LaBarbera heading into this season.
Despite Saturday’s performance, he is still not ready to say things are where they need to be in the field.
“There are some question marks. There are concerns,” he said. “We really don’t have a rotation of 1-2-3. Nobody’s really stepped up to say ‘I’m the one, I’m the two, I’m the three.’”
Sophomore righty Patrick Quarters will get his chance to make his mark on the pitching rotation as the third starter to take the mound this season for the Crusaders against Mount Hope Tuesday (results unavailable at press time).
While his confidence is growing in his team’s defense and his pitching staff, for the time being LaBarbera plans on sticking to Prout’s strength for early season success.
“We’re hitting,” LaBarbera said, “so we’re just going to keep doing what we do best.”