The one time the Bishop Hendricken baseball team lost during the regular season, the Hawks immediately took out their anger by mercy-ruling their next opponent.
Apparently, that’s just the way Hendricken operates.
After dropping a 5-4 decision to South Kingstown last Wednesday with a chance to reach the Division I semifinals on the line, the Hawks came out with a vengeance on Friday, crushing the Rebels 11-0 in just five innings in a winner-take-all Region 1 championship game.
That win advanced top-seeded Hendricken to the semifinals against Cranston West, where it led the best-of-three series 1-0 thanks to a 4-3 win in game one on Sunday. Results of Monday’s game two were unavailable at press time.
But in order to get to that point, the Hawks had to beat South Kingstown. Right from the start, it was clear they were ready.
Gatorade Player of the Year Gian Martellini launched a three-run home run to left field in the first inning, staking Hendricken to an immediate 3-0 lead.
“The kids came ready to play today,” Holloway said. “We talked about them not being ready the other day. They were fired up to start the game. Gian got the big hit, the three-run homer, and you jump out like that, it’s bound to deflate the other team. That was huge.”
With ace junior Mike McCaffrey on the mound, those three runs were more than enough, although Hendricken made sure to add some more just to be positive.
McCaffrey ended up pitching 4.1 innings, giving up just two hits while walking four and striking out four.
“Mike’s had a terrific year,” Holloway said. “He gave us the innings we needed.”
Hendricken padded its lead with two runs in the second, one in the third and five more in the fourth, with senior captain Brady Chant delivering the knockout blow with a two-out grand slam to dead center field in the fourth for his first home run of the season.
“It felt good off the bat,” Chant said. “I haven’t felt great this season, but that one felt good.”
The Hawks drove South Kingstown starter Brad Douglas out of the game after just two innings, as Martellini’s home run did the initial damage and an RBI single from Kevin Sutyla and a sacrifice fly from Ryan Rotondo tacked on two more in the second.
In the third, Hendricken loaded the bases against Ryan Worthington, and Sutyla drew a two-out walk to bring home the Hawks’ sixth run.
Then in the fourth, after Worthington retired the first two batters, Hendricken blew the game open. Martellini – who went 3-for-4 on the day – had a double to start the rally, and Dante Baldelli followed with a walk. Sam Boulanger walked as well, bringing up Chant, who delivered with his biggest hit of the season.
“Brady came through big time,” Holloway said. “He’s a captain, he led us there and that was huge for him and his confidence.”
Andrew Ciacciarelli re-started the rally after the home run, lacing a double to right, and Sutyla brought him home with a double to left-center.
In the bottom of the fifth, McCaffrey walked two batters before getting pulled with one out in favor of senior Gus Culpo, who was making his first appearance of the season and is coming off Tommy John surgery from last year.
Throwing hard, Culpo walked the first man he faced but proceeded to strike out the next two on eight pitches to finish the game.
“We wanted to see Culpo on the mound today,” Holloway said. “It was his first day. Once he got in the groove he was throwing the ball pretty good.”
Hendricken was free to celebrate the win, as it staved off elimination and advanced to the semifinals for the third consecutive year.
“We knew it was do-or-die,” Chant said. “But we were glad to have (McCaffrey) on the mound. That was big. It’s just one game at a time now.”