Against perennial contender North Kingstown, the margin for error was small for the Toll Gate baseball team on Friday afternoon.
A few missteps later, the Titans were basically out of the game.
Toll Gate committed three errors in a three-run third inning and then committed another in a three-run fourth. The Skippers were off and running from there, as they went on to win 10-1 and hand the Titans their fourth loss in five games.
At 1-4, Toll Gate is in ninth place in the 10-team Division I-South. North Kingstown is atop the division at 4-1.
“Good teams put the ball in play,” said Toll Gate head coach Nick Durand. “We have to just make the plays. It’s simple.”
Toll Gate had beaten Coventry 5-1 four days prior for its first win of the season behind a complete-game two-hitter from Steve Foster, and early on against the Skippers, starter Kyle McGuire looked to be on a similar pace.
Throwing a steady diet of curveballs, McGuire hit a batter in the first inning but got through unscathed, then buckled down in the second inning to escape a bases-loaded, nobody out jam with two strikeouts and a flyout.
In the third, he allowed a leadoff single to Brian Cox, Tyler Lamarre reached on an error and Liam Darcy walked to load the bases with nobody out again, but McGuire induced a pop out to second from Dom Grillo that Zach Bacon caught and then threw to first to double off Darcy.
One out away from getting out of another inning unscathed, McGuire pitched to Stephen Cirella, who hit a hard ground ball to Elvis Pimentel at third. The ball skipped on the dirt and went through Pimentel’s legs, allowing two runs to score. A single by Jake Mansfield then made it 3-0.
“Kyle pitched very well,” Durand said. “We just didn’t make the plays behind him. We misplayed some balls. They hit the ball well.”
Offensively, the Titans couldn’t make up any ground against North Kingstown starter Nick Mongeon. He allowed only one hit through the first four innings, a harmless two-out single by Alex Lefebvre.
The Titans finished the game with just three hits.
Meanwhile, the Skippers made it 6-0 with three more runs in the fourth. Chad Mansolillo reached on an infield single, and two batters later, Cox lined a single to right field and the ball was misplayed, allowing Mansolillo to score. Consecutive doubles by Lamarre and Darcy brought home two more runs.
“I was confident coming into here that we could get some good pitching and play some defense,” Durand said. “We started hitting the ball earlier in the week. We just didn’t make the plays in the field today.”
Toll Gate got a run back in the fifth when Austin Giard walked, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout by Nick Lemoie and scored on a groundout by Bacon.
But the Titans never got another rally going. Alex Tedesco came on in relief for the Skippers in the sixth and he surrendered a one-out double to Zack Azeredo, but nothing more. In the seventh, still facing Tedesco, Toll Gate got a two-out single from Bacon before Lefebvre grounded out to end the game.
North Kingstown got its final four runs in the fifth, with Chris Lenox doubling in one, Cox singling in another and Darcy doubling home the final two.
Foster and Tim Warner both pitched over the final two innings.
“We have to keep stressing to the young guys to never give up,” Durand said. “We’re trying to build a certain type of attitude and it starts with the young guys never giving up.”
Toll Gate will be trying to turn it around with three games this week. First, it is at 2-4 Barrington today at 11 a.m. On Thursday, it hosts 4-2 South Kingstown at 3:45 p.m. and then on Saturday it hosts Pilgrim at 7 p.m.