The Toll Gate baseball team struggled offensively in last Wednesday’s game against Warwick Vets, but the Titans found a way to win anyway, beating the ’Canes 3-2.
On Friday, with a chance to finish off a perfect week, the Titans struggled again – and this time, they didn’t find a way.
Barrington got a complete-game performance from Jeff Leach and posted two big offensive innings en route to an 8-3 victory. It was just the second win of the year for the Eagles, who came in with a 1-5 record.
That made the loss even tougher to take for the Titans, who were hoping to win their third game in a row and get over .500. Instead, the wind came out of their sails. They dropped to 3-4 with the loss.
“To end the week like this, it kind of takes it away,” said Toll Gate head coach Dave Hagopian. “I’m not too happy right now.”
The Titans have actually scored the second-most runs in the division, but almost half of their 36 runs came in a 17-run explosion against East Providence.
Apart from that, the bats have been too quiet.
“Offensively, we’re struggling right now,” Hagopian said. “The guys that we thought would be hitting for us aren’t hitting. We’re struggling to score runs. We’re not going to win too many 2-1 games. We need to score runs and we’re not doing it right now.”
The Titans started Friday’s game well enough as Ben Mann led off with a line drive single. He then stole second and third but was stranded as Leach got three quick outs.
Soon enough, the Titans found themselves needing some offense.
Barrington touched up Titans’ starter Ryan Charette for four runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning. Collin Fay and Nathan Bannon started the frame with back-to-back doubles, Ethan Studley had a triple and Matt McNair knocked in a run with a single.
Charette settled in from there, and the Titans started to chip away at the lead. Colin Stamps walked to start the second and Joe Martinez followed with a bloop single. After Stamps moved to third on a wild pitch, Gabe Zabatta hit a popup to shallow right that dropped in for a hit, and Stamps scored.
The Titans then added two more runs in the fourth. Stamps reached on a bloop single, Martinez got hit by a pitch and R.J. Mann drew a walk to load the bases. Stamps scored when Zabatta reached on a fielder’s choice. Ben Mann then brought Martinez home with a base hit to left.
That rally made it a 4-3 game, but the Titans still weren’t feeling great. They had stranded two runners in the second inning, and despite loading the bases with nobody out in the fourth, they managed just the two runs.
“I think everything could have been better,” Hagopian said. “The pitch selection was bad and the swings were just as bad. All around, it was an ugly offensive performance.”
And the missed chances eventually caught up to the Titans. After three straight scoreless innings by Charette, Barrington got its bats going again in the fifth, with Fay and Bannon singling and Studley smacking a double. McNair also had a base hit as the Eagles put up three more runs.
They added another in the sixth when Jack Wenzel reached on an error, took third on a single by Fay and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bannon.
“You’ve got to give credit to Barrington,” Hagopian said. “They hit. Sometimes you tip your hat. I thought Ryan pitched okay. He’s pitched better, but he wasn’t too bad. They hit the ball.”
And the Titans couldn’t keep up. They got a leadoff single in the sixth by Martinez but nothing else. In the seventh, they loaded the bases on an error, a walk to Alex Lefebvre and a single by Jacob Cardiff, but Leach bucked down for two strikeouts and a fly-out to end the game.
Leach struck out seven and scattered seven hits.
The Titans will try to get back on track this week as they get set to begin one of their toughest stretches of the season. They’ll play crossover games this week against I-North powers Cumberland and Lincoln before playing I-South leader North Kingstown next week.
“It’s every phase of the game,” Hagopian said. “We need to pitch better. We need to play defense better. Most of all, we have to hit better. Guys have to start hitting. You can’t win if you don’t score runs.”