Toll Gate senior Ryan Charette had a feeling his start on Wednesday afternoon against Coventry might be a little different than usual.
“I think I tweeted ‘I’m feeling a no-hitter today,’” the left-hander said.
Charette’s feeling was prophetic. He needed just 64 pitches to baffle Coventry over five innings of work, as he allowed only two balls to leave the infield on his way to a no-hitter in Toll Gate’s 10-0, mercy-rule shortened victory.
He struck out three batters, and the only blemishes on his resume were three walks. He retired the final seven batters he faced, allowed only one runner to reach second base and threw his first career no-hitter, at any level.
In addition, he had two hits and three RBI at the plate.
“He’s a gamer,” Toll Gate head coach Dave Hagopian said. “He’s always locked in. That’s the way he is every start. He’s been like that since he was a sophomore.”
Charette faced only 18 batters in the game, as his defense kept him rolling by playing flawlessly in the field. Third baseman Junior Rivas made a nice play on a ground ball off the bat of the first batter of the game that hit the plate and flew high in the air, and that set the tone for the rest of the day.
Other than that, there were very few plays that were even close to being a base hit or an error. Toll Gate made all the plays.
“Defensively, it was our greatest game so far,” Charette said.
That made his life easy on the mound. His team’s offensive performance helped as well.
Right from the first inning, Toll Gate was in control. After Charette struck out two Coventry hitters in the top of the frame, the Titans’ first three hitters – Ben Mann, Alex Lefebvre and Rivas – all walked, on a combined 14 pitchers from Coventry starter Aaron Guenet.
A mound visit did nothing to turn the tide, as Evan Stamps followed up the walks with a bloop single to left field that plated the game’s first run. Joe Martinez came up next, and his hard grounder was booted by Oakers’ second baseman Nick Palumbo to drive home another run. Zach Bacon then reached on an infield single, before a hard single to left from James Meizoso made it 4-0.
Coventry pulled Guenet from the game after just seven batters, none of which he retired.
“They walked some of our batters, so we were more selective at the plate and then we ended up getting a few nice line drives and key hits,” Hagopian said.
The Oakers turned to Joey Corbin out of the bullpen, and Charette greeted him with an RBI groundout. Corbin retired the next two batters without a problem, but the Titans led 5-0 after one inning. They sent 10 batters to the plate.
“The pitcher had trouble throwing strikes at the beginning, so I told the guys that you let him off the hook by being too aggressive,” Hagopian said. “They were patient.”
And with the way that Charette was rolling, those five runs were more than enough. Charette cruised through the second inning, allowing only a two-out walk to Justin Jadach before inducing a groundball from Erik O’Connell to Lefebvre at shortstop to end the inning.
The Titans stayed true to form in the home half of the second, getting an RBI single from Stamps and a two-run single from Charette to make it 8-0.
Armed with a huge lead, Charette walked two more batters with two outs in the third before getting another groundout to Lefebvre. In the fourth, he needed just 13 pitches to set the side down in order, including a strikeout of Jadach.
Then in the fifth, three straight groundouts on six pitches basically finished the job.
Still, Charette’s no-hitter wasn’t completely in the bag. The Titans needed two runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game via the mercy rule. Otherwise, the game would move to the sixth.
“I was definitely hoping for the two runs so I didn’t have to go back out there,” Charette said.
Mission accomplished. Facing reliever Shawn Pacifico, Mann reached on a one-out single, and he moved to third when Lefebvre doubled. Rivas brought home Mann on an RBI groundout, and two batters later, pinch hitter Zack Azeredo reached on an error and Lefebvre trotted home with the game-ending run.
Offensively, Charette led the way with his three RBI, while Stamps went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Meizoso went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI, while Rivas and Bacon each added a hit and an RBI. Lefebvre and Mann each had one hit as well, bringing the team total to 10.
“It’s nice when you get contributions throughout the whole lineup,” Hagopian said.
When you combine that with the flawless defense and, of course, Charette’s no-hitter, it was about as solid a game as Toll Gate could play.
“It was just about as perfect a game as you can get,” Hagopian said.
The Titans are now 2-2 on the season, with a 3-1 win over Middletown to go with the victory over Coventry, plus narrow losses to Moses Brown and East Greenwich. Coventry is now 1-3.
Toll Gate’s next game is Friday at 1-2 Portsmouth at 4 p.m.