Warriors glowing about win over Bulldogs
There was a good reason for the celebration going on at the Lawn Avenue School baseball field last Friday afternoon, and it wasn't that spring break had just started. The baseball team did have an opportunity to start their vacation with a smile, however, after winning their first game in two years by defeating the Westerly Bulldogs 8-7.
After a disheartening loss to Chariho on April 11, when Lawn stayed close the entire game only to have Chariho break away in the seventh inning, the Warriors came back strong two days later.
Starting pitcher Drew Waddington set the tone for the team in the first inning, striking out two batters and getting the third to ground out for a one-two-three inning.
"Drew pitched a great game. These three-game weeks really kill us with only three pitchers, but he did very well," Coach Eric Bush said.
A few well-placed hits by both teams scored a few runs in the first two innings, but the Warriors were down 3-1 going into the bottom of the third inning. A monstrous Steve Santos homerun, his second of the season, put Jamestown back on top, 4-3.
The Warriors made several key plays during the game, but one of the most exciting was a relay from the left-fielder Christian Tiexiera, to shortstop Ryan Southworth, to Alessandro Baccari who made the tag at third to take away a triple from Westerly in the top of the fourth.
The excitement continued the next inning when Trevor Bobola caught a tailing line drive in right field during the top of the fifth. The Bulldogs were able to take a temporary one-run lead in the inning, but Bobola's catch kept Westerly from doing more damage and got the Warriors out of the inning.
Bobola showed his strength at the plate by leading off the bottom of the fifth with a hit, and he scored the tying run on a Southworth hit.
Matt Baptista came to the plate with one out, bases loaded and drove a triple down the right field line to score three and put Jamestown on top 8-5.
Westerly added one run in the top of the sixth, but strong defense by the Warriors held them to the solo score.
Bush told his team as they took the field in the top of the seventh it was their time to shine, to keep the errors to a minimum, play strong defense, and in three outs they would be the victors.
The Bulldogs scored one run and put runners in scoring positions with no outs and it looked as though the Warriors were going to have to play the bottom of the seventh to get their victory, but then the team came together the way they had been all game. They made one out, and, with the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run at first, the batter hit a line drive to Southworth at shortstop and he doubled off the runner at second base to end the game.
"It was an all-around fundamentally sound game," Bush said. "We didn't let errors hurt us. If we got one, we just shook it off and got ready for the next play."
Waddington and Santos combined for only two walks during the game, a number that Bush was extremely pleased with.
"For pitchers to walk only two batters at the middle school level is fantastic," the coach said.
The coach sees the victory as a turning point for the team, and he hopes the lessons about teamwork and not giving up carry over to the rest of the season.
"This is the first game where we really started to hit. We were having trouble with always being one hit shy to break it open. Today they got those second and third hits and that really got us going," Bush said.
The team is responding well to Bush's coaching technique, a style he adopted while coaching high school baseball.
"I am putting them through the same stuff that I put my high school players through. I am not toning it, or watering it down for them," he concluded. "They are finally getting it and my expectations are high and I think theirs are now, too."