Last week’s three-game series between NEFL/Shields Post 43 and Senerchia Post 74 was the only time the Warwick rivals and potential title contenders will meet this season.
Neither one made the absolute most of it like they hoped, but neither one had too much to complain about. NEFL took two out of three, winning 7-3 on Thursday and 4-3 on Friday, before Senerchia salvaged game three with a 7-3 victory on Saturday morning.
NEFL improved to 6-1, best in the Central Division. Senerchia, who went on to lose to R&R Construction on Sunday, is 4-3.
“Overall, we’re happy,” said NEFL manager Dave McGuirl. “I’ve got to look at the whole thing. We played really well defensively the first two games and we got great pitching performances. They hadn’t lost a game all year before this so taking two out of three is big for us.”
For Senerchia, who was 3-0 coming into the series, Saturday’s win eased the sting of the first two losses.
“They’re our biggest rivals, so just a pride thing,” said manager Chris Sheehan. “I told the guys two losses isn’t going to make or break a season, but just for our pride and confidence going forward, you don’t want a three-game losing streak.”
NEFL stormed into Hendricken in Thursday’s game one, plating four runs in the first inning. A hit-batsman and singles by Branden Hoxsie and Shawn Clayton started it. Mike Mallozzi reached on an error, Ryan Rotondo delivered a sacrifice fly and Cole Furney knocked in two runs with a double.
That early burst was plenty for NEFL starter Ryan Charette, who gave up two runs on four hits in six innings of work. He struck out four. Hoxsie pitched the final inning, working out of a jam to seal the victory.
“Ryan Charette threw a gem,” McGuirl said. “He did a great job. We got some timely hits and we were able to take advantage of some mistakes.”
On Friday, the teams staged the best game of the series. Hoxsie and Shane Johnson combined for a solid pitching performance, and NEFL scored single run sin the second, third, fifth and sixth innings. Ben Mann had three hits to lead the offense, while Rotondo and Danny Greaves each had an RBI.
Senerchia scored a run with two outs in the seventh, but Johnson got Matt Murphy to fly out to end the game.
“It was another well-played game,” McGuirl said. “We were able to hang on.”
On Saturday, Senerchia reasserted itself, scoring a run in the first, three in the third and two in the fourth on its way to a big early lead.
Matt Murphy did the rest, tossing five strong innings. He allowed just three hits and struck out five.
“Murphy was awesome on the mound,” Sheehan said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Mike King led the early offense. He had an RBI in the first inning and doubled in the third. Nick Boland knocked in a run with a ground-out in the third before RBI hits by Gian Martellini and Brady Chant. John Toppa then delivered a big hit in the fourth, knocking home two with a two-out single on an 1-2 pitch from James Meizoso.
“I thought James pitched well,” McGuirl said. “He had two strikes on a lot of hitters. Give them credit. They were able to fight pitches off. James just couldn’t put them away with two strikes.”
NEFL pushed two runs across in the sixth against Senerchia reliever Dan Thadeio but shortstop John Willette made a nice play on a slow roller to end the inning. In the seventh, Thadeio stranded runners on first and second to seal the win.
“It was good to come out here and get a win,” Sheehan said. “I really just talked to the guys about being tough. They love to try to get into your heads. You’ve got to not let that affect you and just play your game and I thought our guys did a better job of that today.”
Senerchia lost 3-2 to R&R Construction on Sunday. It was slated to play Providence on Monday and will play Providence again tonight at 8 p.m. at Davis Park.
NEFL was slated to be back in action Monday against West Warwick Post Two, with results unavailable at press time. NEFL will host Collette Vacations today at 5:30 p.m.