The Bishop Hendricken baseball team couldn’t ask for a better start to its season.
After an 18-0, mercy-rule victory over Lincoln last Monday, the Hawks continued their dominance on the mound, at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths with another convincing win on Thursday over Cranston West.
Hendricken got a combined four-hit shutout from starter Dillon Manfredi and reliever Mike McCaffrey, and used a patient approach at the plate to wear down West pitching. The result was a 9-0 victory over the Falcons, bringing the Hawks’ early-season margin of victory to 27-0 in two games.
“It’s definitely surprising, but that’s what we’re trying to do every game,” senior second baseman Matt Murphy said. “We’re trying to end it in five (innings).”
The Hawks piled up 11 hits, giving them 21 in two games. They committed one error, but it’s the only one the team has made so far this year. Pitching-wise, to go with Thursday’s performances, standout senior Mike King threw a two-hitter against Lincoln, as Hendricken has given up just six total hits and has not allowed a run.
On Thursday, the Hawks also stole two bases and worked six walks.
It’s early in the season, but Hendricken – at 2-0 – is in mid-season form.
“We can get a lot better,” Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway said. “I think the good thing is that we’ve taken advantage of the mistakes on the other teams. When they make errors or walk people, we’re taking advantage.”
Manfredi pitched four innings, working out of jams in each of them. He allowed a two-out single to Travis Collins in the first, but got a pop-up from Frank Pettinato to escape.
In the second, after surrendering a leadoff single, he induced a 6-4-3 double play from shortstop Lou Umberto to Murphy to first baseman Jarek Krajewski to erase the runner. After a two-out walk, he escaped that inning unscathed as well.
In the third, he walked two batters with one out, but got a groundout from Collins and another from Pettinato – with Umberto making a charging play near the mound – to retire the side. In the fourth, he put the first two men on with a walk and a hit batter, but a strikeout of Brian Franco that resulted in a double play when Armand Vaziri, who was on second base, tried to take third, helped Manfredi’s cause. He then calmly retired Kemi Idowu to complete his day.
Manfredi scattered just two hits, while walking four. He struck out one.
“He was in a couple of jams early, and he battled and got out of it,” Holloway said. “That was key, not to let them get up on us. I thought that was huge for us in the game.”
Offensively, Hendricken had some trouble capitalizing early on against Pettinato, the West pitcher. The Hawks left the bases loaded in the first and second innings, although they did scratch across a run in the second on an RBI infield single by catcher Gian Martellini.
In the third, Hendricken added another run on a double to left-center off the bat of Murphy, scoring John Toppa, who singled earlier in the inning. That made the score 2-0.
But in the fourth inning, the Hawks really came to life, with help from some erratic West pitching. Leadoff man Rob Henry reached on an error to start the inning, and he scored on an RBI groundout by Ed Markowski. Pettinato then hit Martellini and walked King, before being pulled for Anthony Meola.
Meola didn’t fare much better, walking Krajewski on five pitches and then walking Toppa on five more. That forced in another run, and Meola was removed for Idowu.
“I think overall we were pretty good,” Holloway said. “We’ve been good so far this year being patient, getting good pitches, not chasing. That inning was a good example of that.”
Idowu promptly hit pinch hitter Billy Keegan to bring in another run. Then Murphy made all the free passes really hurt, as he lined a two-run single to center, making the score 7-0.
West got out of the inning with a 1-2-3 double play afterwards, but the damage was done.
“We always stress, don’t give extra outs, don’t give extra base runners,” West head coach Rob Malo said. “We started out with an error. Then there was a groundout, but then a hit batsman, two walks, a hit batsman before they got their first hit.”
Hendricken went to the bullpen in the fifth inning and called on McCaffrey, and he picked up right where Manfredi left off. He retired the side in order in the fifth, worked around a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth and stranded two more runners to finish the game in the seventh.
The Hawks’ other two runs came in the bottom of the fifth, as Markowski scored on an error, and King scored on a deep double by Toppa to center.
For the day, Murphy was 2-for-3 with three RBI, Martellini was 3-for-3 with an RBI and Toppa was 2-for-3 with an RBI as well.
“We don’t have any of the big hitters that we had last year, and I think we’re just trying to work counts more than we did last year,” Murphy said. “We had some guys that could really hit. We’re working counts, we’re doing everything right.”
West fell to 1-1 on the season. Hendricken, which is one of four unbeaten teams left in D-I, was scheduled to be back in action on Monday against Cumberland, with the results unavailable at press time.
After that, the Hawks will travel to 2-0 La Salle on Wednesday for a 3:45 p.m. game and then head to North Providence on Friday for a 4 p.m. start.
“Everything went right for us today,” Murphy said. “We didn’t make any mistakes, they did. That’s how you win a game.”