The Bishop Hendricken baseball team got its semifinal series against Coventry off to a strong start with two runs in the first inning of Saturday’s game one. From there, it wasn’t an easy road to the finish but the Hawks held off a charge from the Oakers to win 3-2.
“Coventry played a very good game,” said Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway. “They battled. They did a nice job hitting, the kid pitched a good game and they made plays in the field. It was a great game. I thought both teams played well.”
As they have in all their playoff games, the Hawks jumped out to a lead. Tom Pannone got hit by a pitch with one out in the first inning, and Billy Walker followed with a base hit to the hole between shortstop and third base. Bobby Indeglia then smacked an RBI double to right-center field to score Pannone. Walker trotted home on a ground-out by Reed Gamache.
The Hawks then made it 3-0 in the third inning when Pannone smashed a solo home run to right-center.
Coventry starter Cote Nichols didn’t allow another run, but it didn’t look like the Hawks would need any more. On the mound, Pannone cruised in the early going. The senior lefty needed just 16 pitches to get through two perfect innings. He worked around a hit-batsman and a single to post a scoreless third.
Slowly but surely, though, the Oakers chipped away. In the fifth, Colin Gallagher walked, moved to second on a groundout, took third on a base hit by Alex Zannella and scored on a wild pitch. In the sixth, Troy Fredette walked, took third on a double by Brandon Sullivan and scored on a passed ball.
But with the Hawks clinging to the 3-2 lead, Pannone buckled down. With a runner on third, he got two ground-outs to end the sixth, then worked around a two-out single in the seventh to finish off the complete-game victory.
“He got tough there,” Holloway said. “I think he got tired in about the fourth inning, believe it or not, but he gutted it out. When they got the tying run on third, he gutted it out and gave it everything he had.”
Pannone had plenty of help from his defense. With a runner on third in the fourth inning, second baseman Lou Umberto made a nice play on a slow roller and threw to first, where P.J. Murray stretched for the out.
Reed Gamache and Rich Bacon handled ground balls to end the sixth inning, and Bacon made a good play on a tough hop in the seventh.
“We have a great defense,” Holloway said. “We’ve been talking about it, and this is one of our best defenses.”
Pannone struck out five and allowed five hits in seven innings of work. At the plate, Walker went 2-for-3 to lead the way. Pannone, Indeglia, and Mike King had one hit apiece.
Hendricken went on to win game two 3-2 in 10 innings.