The Bishop Hendricken baseball team was not perfect in the regular season, but when all was said and done, the Hawks’ record was.
It’s been the same story so far in the postseason.
After holding off Portsmouth for a 5-3 win in Saturday’s first round, the Hawks moved into the regional final with a 7-1 victory over Moses Brown on Tuesday. Mike McCaffrey tossed a complete-game two-hitter, and the Hawks broke open the game in the late going.
There were still some hiccups – the Hawks left seven runners on base and the score was just 2-1 into the fifth inning – but the Hawks are also still perfect.
“We played better today than we have been,” said Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway. “Still, a couple of times, we left guys, didn’t move runners, but we were able to be consistent and we added some runs at the end there.”
The Hawks are now one win away from a spot in the Final Four. On Saturday at 3 p.m., they’ll play the winner of the loser’s bracket final between Moses Brown and Cumberland in the region championship. The Hawks would have to be beaten twice to miss out on the Final Four.
It’s a good spot – especially considering where other top seeds have ended up. While Hendricken and North Kingstown are in regional finals, La Salle and South Kingstown – the other regional top seeds – are battling for their lives in the loser’s bracket.
“It helps to win the first two,” Holloway said. “It’s hard to come back once you get into the loser’s bracket. Right now, we’re happy to be 2-0.”
The Hawks staked themselves to a 2-0 lead against the Quakers in the first inning. Rob Henry led off with a walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Ed Markowski. After a Gian Martellini single, Jarek Krajewski brought Markowski home with a double, though Martellini was thrown out at home to end the inning.
From there, Moses Brown found its footing. The Quakers cut the deficit in half in the third when Elijah Brown walked, stole second and scored on a base hit by Nathan Farrington. In the bottom of the third, the Hawks loaded the bases with one out, but Moses Brown starter Colton King induced a ground ball and the Quakers turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam.
For the Hawks, the slim lead – and the momentum creeping toward the Quakers – felt a lot like the first round of the playoffs.
“I told them, we can’t let them hang around because that’s what we did the other day against Portsmouth,” Holloway said. “The first inning, we had an opportunity to get a big lead and we just didn’t do it. We can’t afford to do that. We need to be almost perfect.”
Thankfully for the Hawks, they were pretty close the rest of the way. After Farrington’s RBI single in the third, McCaffrey retired 10 in a row. In the meantime, the Hawks added a run in the fifth and four in the sixth to get some breathing room.
John Toppa singled in the fifth, took third on a ground ball by Mike King and trotted home on a Martellini sacrifice fly.
In the sixth, the Hawks broke it open. Nick Boland led off with a triple, chasing Colton King, and Matt Murphy brought him home with a single. Lou Umberto then reached on an error that allowed Murphy to score, and Markowski knocked him in with a triple to deep center. Toppa brought in Hendricken’s seventh run with an RBI base hit.
Markowski led the Hawks’ offense with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Murphy, Martellini and Toppa also had two hits.
McCaffrey finished off the complete game with a scoreless seventh. The Quakers put two on thanks to an error and a walk, but McCaffrey retired the next three in order.
He finished with six strikeouts. The only hits were singles.
“He did a nice job,” Holloway said. “He battles. He’s got the curveball, fastball, he threw some changeups. He’s a good pitcher.”
The Quakers will now try for another shot at Hendricken, but they’ll have to beat Cumberland again to get it. They edged the Clippers 5-4 in extra innings in the first round. Cumberland stayed alive Tuesday with an 11-10 win over Portsmouth.