Bishop Hendricken came into Friday’s game as the only undefeated baseball team left in Division I, at 11-0. The Hawks had dominated their opponents, out-scoring them 106-18. But the 3-8 East Providence Townies gave them all they could handle at home on Friday.
East Providence pitcher Scott Mello and Hendricken’s Mike King each dominated on the mound, but in the end, Hendricken came out on top again. P.J. Murray smacked a walk-off single into left field off Mello in the ninth inning, lifting the Hawks to a dramatic 2-1 victory.
“Our last three games have been tougher games,” Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway said. “And I think the results have shown how good they are and how confident they are. These are the kind of games we’re going to get in the playoffs. So it’s good that we’re getting tested before the end of the season.”
Both pitchers were exceptionally sharp in the opening frames. Mello was mixing his pitches well with pinpoint control, while King challenged the Townies with his overpowering fastball. No hits were allowed until the fourth, when Hawks’ captain Billy Walker broke up Mello’s perfect game with a long single. Logan Bettencourt broke up King’s no-hitter in the top of the fifth with an infield single, but the game remained scoreless until the bottom half of the fifth.
Reed Gamache led off the inning with a single to right. The Hawks were then a bit fortunate, as Gamache was stealing and forced the shortstop to cover, while Rich Bacon hit a grounder through the vacancy between second and third, advancing Gamache to third with nobody out.
A wild play ensued, as Justin Finan was the next batter, and he hit a bullet back at Mello. The ball ricocheted off Mello and the Townies were able to turn a 1-4-6-3 double play. Gamache did score on the play, though, and Hendricken took a 1-0 lead. Mello stayed in the game and retired Murray to end the inning.
King remained strong on the hill, and Hendricken held a 1-0 lead until the top of the seventh. Rich Bacon made an error at shortstop with one out, allowing Jasiah Hatch to reach. Hatch stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. After Keith Marquis struck out, Bettencourt played the role of hero, as he smashed a double to left to bring home Hatch and tie the score at one apiece.
King would go on to strike out the side to finish his day. He allowed one unearned run over seven innings, with three walks and 11 strikeouts.
Mello worked around a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh by Walker, and the game headed for extra innings.
The Hawks made a pitching change, bringing in Bobby Indeglia. Indeglia pitched two scoreless innings of relief while striking out four batters.
Mello remained in the game for East Providence, pitching his way into the ninth. Walker again doubled to lead off the frame for his third hit of the game. Tom Pannone walked and a passed ball advanced the runners to second and third. After an intentional walk, King grounded into a fielder’s choice, bringing Murray to the plate with the bases loaded. Murray poked one into left to bring home Pannone, and the Hawks walked off with the victory.
“I was just trying to square a ball up,” Murray said. “I had a similar situation in my previous at-bat. I was unable to come through. So I just wanted to come through for my teammates.”
Murray’s extra inning heroics propelled the Hawks to their 12th victory, while keeping them undefeated for the season.
As has been the case all season long, the pitching was once again stellar for the Hawks. King and Indeglia combined to allow just the one run, while striking out 15 batters.
“Our pitching has been great all year, and Mike and Bobby kept it going today,” Holloway said.
Mello had an equally impressive outing, holding the best hitting team in the state to two runs over 8.1 innings.
“He threw his back out last week and really hasn’t been able to do much,” East Providence assistant coach Chris Kennedy said. “But he went out there and shut out the best team in the state today. He played unbelievable baseball today. I’m proud of him.”
The Hawks now have seven games remaining in the regular season and will be back on the diamond today, when they travel to Pilgrim for a 4 p.m. game.