COVENTRY — The final score of Friday’s Division I-South game would indicate the young Coventry baseball team suffered its second straight heavy defeat.
But there’s a big difference between the terrible five innings the Oakers played Wednesday against Toll Gate and the solid seven innings they put together in a 9-1 defeat to reigning Division I-South champion North Kingstown.
“I think we played the game pretty well today between the lines defensively,” Coventry coach Leo Bush said. “Today was a good step in the right direction even though the scoreboard doesn’t say that. We have to find something to build on going into our next week.”
North Kingstown, unlike the Oakers, is built to win now and the Skippers have been doing a lot of winning since an opening-day loss to Barrington. North’s pitching staff has allowed just two runs in its last four games.
Junior right-hander Alex Tedesco allowed just one run in six innings of work to earn the victory. Senior righty Jason Montanaro, who hit a home run, worked
around a hit in the seventh inning.
“We’ve thrown a lot of strikes and we’re not giving runs away,” North Kingstown coach Kevin Gormley said of his pitching staff, which is led by seniors Dom Grillo and Billy Young. “In the preseason we were giving a lot of runs away. The ball doesn’t go anywhere with these new bats, so if you make teams string hits together you’re going to be successful.”
Coventry (1-3 Division I-South) actually had plenty of chances to score, which is a departure from Wednesday’s game when they were no hit for five innings. Sophomore third baseman Nick Palumbo belted a first-inning home run, while junior shortstop Shaun Vigeant had two hits and a walk.
Lead-off hitter Anthony Masseur, Bobby Beaudoin, Justin Jadach and Erik O’Connell also had hits. The Oakers, however, were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s nice to be in a position where we have runners in scoring position and runners on base,” Bush said. “We’ll find a way eventually to move those guys around, but I thought we swung the bats well.”
North Kingstown (4-1 Division I-South) pounded out 11 hits and hit two home runs even though the middle of the order didn’t produce much. Senior Chris Hess, who is headed to URI on a baseball scholarship, had just one hit and No. 3 hitter Austin Barry and No. 4 hitter Tyler LaMarre combined for just one hit and one run.
The bulk of the damage was done by the bottom of the order. Montanaro had a sacrifice fly to go along with his two-run home run, while catcher Tyler Rains hit a solo home run and scored another run. Chris Lenox also scored two runs.
“The bottom of the lineup did the job today,” Gormley said. “It’s big when you can flip the lineup like that. I don’t worry about kids like Chris Hess and Austin Barry and Tyler LaMarre because I know they’re going to hit. I’ll take my chances with the bottom of the lineup hitting like that.”
For the second time in as many starts Coventry righty Brandon Pare pitched well. The senior gave up a run in the first inning on a wild pitch, but the Oakers cancelled that run out when Palumbo smashed a home run to left field.
Pare pitching a clean second inning and gave up a run in the third before he ran into trouble in the fourth inning. Chris Lenox started the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second on a Pare throwing error. Sophomore Liam Darcy singled home Lenox and Darcy scored on a Montanaro sacrifice fly.
Coventry had its chances to stay in the game, especially in the third inning when Vigeant (single), Merritt (single) and Beaudoin (sacrifice bunt) loaded the bases with no outs. O’Connell grounded into a fielder’s choice and then Jadach lined into a double play to end the threat.
North scored a run in the sixth on an Adam Nabb single and then the Skippers teed off in the seventh inning. Rain and Montanaro hit home runs off Coventry reliever Aaron Guenet to turn a 5-1 game into a 9-1 blowout.
“We’re playing better,” Gormley said. “We still have to work on hitting a little bit more. Sometimes we’re still taking bad swings in key spots, but it’s getting better. Today was the best day we hit the ball all year.”