Pilgrim had plenty of base runners, but couldn’t come up with the big hit, falling 3-0 to La Salle on Tuesday in their first game of the postseason in the double elimination Region 2 bracket.
Pilgrim finished its season with an 8-10 record, gaining the No. 12 seed and a match-up with the 13-5 Rams on Tuesday.
La Salle starter Caleb Gardner was overpowering, yet wild in the early going, and through much of the duration of his outing. Gardner issued eight walks in four-plus innings of work, while only surrendering one hit and striking out nine. The Pats left two or more players on base in each of the first three innings, squandering opportunities to take an early lead.
Pilgrim’s starter, Branden Hoxsie, was equally effective in the early innings, only allowing one base runner – on a walk – in the opening two innings. But the Rams became the aggressor in the bottom of the third.
La Salle began to look for pitches to hit early in the count in an effort to avoid getting deeper into counts against Hoxsie, who was consistently throwing strikes.
“I told them, ‘Let’s be a little more aggressive. If we see a fastball, let’s go after it. Let’s swing early in the count because we are seeing a lot of fastballs.’ And we were able to hit the ball where they weren’t and score some runs,” La Salle head coach Geoff Marcone said.
The Rams scored three times in the third on four hits. Conor Weathers led off with a single and scored on a double into the left-center field gap by Jesse Lee. Two batters later, Frank D’Amato singled to center, scoring Lee, and would later steal second, the third steal of the inning for La Salle. Patrick Burns capped off the scoring with a single between short and third, scoring D’Amato and giving the Rams a 3-0 lead.
Gardner struck out the side in the top of the fourth, but handed the game over to reliever Tyler Drainville to preserve the lead. Drainville was stingy in three innings of work, allowing zero runs, one hit and one hit batsman.
Hoxsie settled in on the hill for Pilgrim following the big third inning and completed the game, allowing those three runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out one.
Yet, as it turned out, Pilgrim simply could never come up with the big hit against Gardner or Drainville.
“We had our chances today,” Pilgrim head coach Ed Colvin said. “In the first three innings we had first and third with one out twice, and second and third with nobody out. But we had some base running mistakes and we weren’t swinging the bat. But we’ve got to give them credit for making good pitches. I felt good about our effort today. We just needed to come through with a big hit.”
La Salle will take on South Kingstown – which beat Warwick Vets 3-2 on Tuesday – today, while Pilgrim will host Vets in an elimination game today at 4 p.m.
The winner of that game will take on the loser of the South Kingstown-La Salle game.