KINGSTON – It has been some time since South Kingstown Post 39 has taken the field and found themselves in the win column at game’s end.
Entering Monday night’s contest with Gershkoff Auto Body – Auburn Post 20, Post 39’s only win in July came via forfeit.
The team, however, carried over some strong play in their recent losses and finally translated it into a win, taking down Post 20 8-3 at the University of Rhode Island’s Bill Beck Field.
“I told them forget about that,” Post 39 coach Gary Lessard said of the losing streak. “We had a couple days off and now we’re on a roll.”
Monday night’s contest did not start well for Post 39 starter Connor Barrett, as the lefty was rattled in the first inning following a tight pick-off call at second base, ruled in favor of Auburn, which led to two runs being scored in the top of the first inning.
“Personally, I thought the guy was out at second when [Barrett] picked him off,” Lessard said. “I think that effected him. ...Instead of concentrating on the hitter, I think that kind of peeved him that he was put in a hole that way. But, he settled down.”
Despite the early runs, Barrett collected himself quickly, shutting down Post 20 over the remaining six innings of the game for the complete game win.
In total, Barrett’s night went for three runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings pitched. It was just the second complete game for Post 39 this season.
As good as their pitcher was, the offense still needed to do their part.
Much like their starting pitcher, they too struggled out of the gates. Some crafty base running on a double steal led to a run in the second inning for SK, but it was not until the sixth that the 39 bats truly found their stride, batting around and plating five runs in the inning.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the frame, for the first time in the game SK put the leadoff batter on as Nick Hayes singled to left.
Jimmy Kershaw followed with a single up the middle and then Robert Ballinger came up with the play that broke the game open as the second baseman attempted to lay down a bunt.
“Robert wanted to bunt for a hit, I said, ‘As long as you don’t pop it up,’” Lessard said with a chuckle. “[They] threw it away. That was big, but – hey – that’s baseball. You have to make the plays.”
An errant throw went well wide of Post 20 first baseman Frank Pettinalo, which not only allowed Ballinger to reach safely, but also allowed both Hayes and Kershaw to come around to score, giving SK a lead they would never relinquish.
“It’s kind of odd. We scored a lot of runs in New York, and then it’s kind of hit or miss,” Lessard said. “With our lineup, we should be able to score some runs.”
Following Ballinger’s bunt attempt, Post 39 went on to load the bases with no outs in the inning and then plate three more before Post 20 could get out of the inning.
Liam McGill came up with an RBI single through the right side, while Nathan Lessard drew a walk with the base loaded to bring in a run and Riley Partridge capped the scoring in the sixth with a sacrifice fly.
After Auburn threatened with a run in the bottom of the sixth, Post 39 put the game away adding two more in the top of the seventh as Ballinger hammered a triple that drove in Kershaw, and then came home to batter later on a RBI single by Dan Iwrin, bringing the score to its final or 8-3.
It was the perfect time for Post 39 to shake off their losing streak as Monday’s game marked the beginning of a stretch that will see the team play nine games in eight days to close out their league schedule.
They came right back on Tuesday night, traveling North to take on Providence Post 56 (results unavailable at time of press), followed by one last road game Wednesday against Gordon Greene Post 27 (2-12 Southern Division) before returning to Old Mountain Field for a doubleheader on Thursday.
Game one will see 39 take on Gordon Greene for their second straight game, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Game two will feature a match-up with J2 Design Team Sharks (8-5 Southern Division) at 7:30 p.m.
South Kingstown entered Tuesday’s game in fourth place at 5-9 in the Southern Division - four and 1/2 games back of R & R Construction (9-5-1) - but with nine games remaining could still vye for one of the top spots in the division if it can string a few wins together to close out the regular season.