North baseball runs over Rebels, clinches division title
With both a division championship and the overall number one seed for the Rhode Island Interscholastic League playoffs at stake, the North Kingstown baseball team took care of business on Tuesday, riding strong bats and slick fielding to an impressive 12-3 win over rival South Kingstown.
Cody Normand threw six strong innings, and Jason Ferri went deep twice for the Skippers, who finish league play with a sparkling 18-1 overall record.
Both teams entered the contest with 16-1 league records, easily the best records in Division I South, giving the scene at Lischio Field a distinct playoff feel.
South Kingstown was looking to avenge their only league loss this season, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of North Kingstown on April 7, but struggled to stymie a potent Skipper offense.
Ferri homered deep to center in the bottom half of the second inning, giving North a 1-0 lead and igniting the rest of the lineup. South Kingstown stayed close through two and a half innings, but ran into trouble in the bottom half of the third and fourth innings. With the game tied at one, with two runners on base and nobody out, Jamestown's Ryan Morris bunted, loading the bases. The next batter, Dave D'Errico singled to left field, driving home two runs. The Skippers plated two more runs in the third, pushing the lead to 5-1.
The hot bats continued to pepper the South Kingstown defense in the fourth, with Jamale Horn hammering a two-run homer to dead center, followed by Connor Walsh's laser that snuck around the right field pole two batters later. With the lead swelling to a comfortable 8-1, Normand stayed in control, allowing two runs in the top of the fifth, but preventing any serious threat from South Kingstown.
By the time North Kingstown removed Normand from the mound for closing pitcher Dave Boelter, South Kingstown had gone through four pitchers.
With the win, the Skippers clinch the Division I South title and head into the RIIL playoffs as the number one overall seed.
"We put ourselves in the best possible position. If you asked me at the beginning of the season, 'Which seed would you like to be?' I'd like to be the one," Head Coach Kevin Gormley said, although he said that nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.
There are two players from Jamestown on this year's varsity squad, seniors Ryan Morris and Matt Vigneault, and coach Gormley had nothing but praise for two of his leaders. "Matt Vigneault has been instrumental to our team as a leader. He runs our bench, he does a great job in the classroom."
As for Morris, "He's having a great year, he's up for Gatorade Player of the Year." The Gatorade award is given to the top baseball player in the interscholastic league.
Morris seems to be having a good time, and he's been one of the key contributors to the Skippers this year, combining success at the plate with a strong glove at shortstop. He was impressive throughout yesterday, flashing good leather in impressive putouts in the second, fourth and sixth innings.
Morris said of the game, "Today was a lot of fun, just going out, having a little fun in a big game."
The game wrapped up league play for the Skippers, who travel to Fitch, Conn. on Friday for their final game.
It's easy for the two players from Jamestown to have a good time, Morris says, because, "We've been very successful, we've had a very good year, just playing with my best friends out here."