At the tail end of a long week, both the Toll Gate and Warwick Vets baseball teams were worn thin, and it showed in Saturday’s non-league game between the two.
The ’Canes and Titans each played league games on Wednesday and Thursday, and with another tough week ahead, Saturday was a balancing act. They wanted to win, but they also wanted get a few reserves into the game and conserve pitching for the league games ahead.
Vets did it better. Thanks to an eight-run first inning in which it sent 13 batters to the plate, Vets came out on top with an 8-6 victory.
The win finished off a 3-0 week for the ’Canes, who beat Mt. Hope 13-0 on Wednesday and then defeated Central 6-5 on Thursday. Vets is 3-1 in Division II.
“Third game of the week, so the pitching is a lot worn down,” said Vets head coach Nolan Landy. “You see what you’ve got, pitching-depth wise. But today was a good game. Nice sunny day, no wind, not freezing – it was good.”
Toll Gate is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It lost two one-run games during the week, falling 1-0 to Middletown and 8-7 to East Greenwich. Then, it battled back against Vets after the tough start but couldn’t get all the way there.
The Titans are now 0-3 in Division I and 0-4 overall.
“Early on this season we’re 0-3, but we’ve had to battle back,” said Toll Gate head coach Nick Durand. “We battled back against EG. We have a lot of young guys, and we’re going to have to show a lot of fight throughout the season. I’m happy they didn’t give up.”
The first inning was the most eventful of the day, by far, on both sides.
Toll Gate opened the top half with three runs off of Vets starter Jesse Holland. Zach Bacon led off with a single, Nick Lemoie did the same and Elvis Pimentel launched a triple down the left field line, scoring two runs. James Meizoso grounded out to the right side, plating Pimentel for a 3-0 lead.
The ’Canes had a response.
Facing Toll Gate’s Tim Warner, the first 10 Vets batters of the game reached base. Adam Dorsey reached on an error, Steven Denis, Shane Kittila, Austin Lamaire and Cam Chadwick all walked, Holland was hit by a pitch and Chris Reid, Tyler DePetrillo, Jarrod Houle and Dorsey all had hits.
DePetrillo knocked in two runs with his hit, and Holland, Dorsey, Denis, Houle, Lamaire and Kittila all had RBI’s as well.
“Good first inning,” Landy said. “We kind of got complacent with that a little bit, but we battled and came out on top.”
The good news for the Titans is that the inning wasn’t a sign of things to come. With the pitching staff worn down by the long week and injuries, Warner actually stayed in the game and excelled the rest of the way.
He didn’t allow a single hit after that inning, and he walked just two men during the span. When the dust had settled, he retired 17 of the last 20 men he faced.
“We thought about (pulling him after the first), but there wasn’t much behind him,” Durand said. “End of the week – we had three games this week already – and we have some injuries to the pitching staff. Tim stepped up big and helped us.”
Holland rebounded after his shaky first inning too, facing only six batters during the second and third innings before he allowed two more runs in the fourth. Zack Azeredo walked to open the frame for Toll Gate and Steve Foster walked. Warner then doubled, scoring both runs.
Jesse Cardiff followed that with a single – putting runners at the corners with one out – but Holland struck out Bacon and got a groundout from Lemoie to escape the jam.
Dorsey came on in relief in the fifth inning, and Toll Gate scored another run thanks to two Vets errors. That made the sore 8-6.
Dorsey didn’t let it get any closer. He retired the final seven batters he faced, a stretch that included perfect sixth and seventh innings.
“That’s what you expect out of those guys,” Landy said. “Throw strikes, throw the breaking ball for a strike and they can compete.”
The ’Canes have now won four of the five games they’ve played this season, and they’ll have their top pitchers – Greaves, Kittila and Lamaire – ready to go for this week. Their next game is today at Wheeler at 4:15 p.m.
“We’re playing well,” Landy said. “I’m never happy, but overall we’ve pitched very well. We’ve hit the ball this year. In years past it’s been one or the other. This year we’re starting to see that jell together. It’s working pretty well.”
Toll Gate will try to break into the win column this week. It was scheduled to be at Coventry on Monday, with the results unavailable at press time, before hosting Portsmouth Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Titans are trying to stay afloat in D-I while four pitchers are sidelined with injuries. That said, Durand likes his team’s attitude as it tries to turn the corner.
“I’m pleased,” Durand said. “We’re young, so there are times when the kids get down. But the seniors pick them up and get them back on track.”