Non-league action on a sun-splashed afternoon let the Pilgrim and Warwick Vets baseball teams take it a little slow on Saturday. They both got something out of that step back from the grind.
Pilgrim woke up its bats after a quiet week, and with the pressure off, scored nine runs – its best offensive showing since April 26 – in a 9-1 win. The Pats are now 9-10 overall and 7-9 in league play. They close out the season this week.
“Last week of the season, we need to swing the bats and we did it today,” said Pilgrim head coach Scott Bailey. “That’s a great team over there. They pitch well. We relaxed and we swung the bats. We had some fun today.”
On the other side, Vets head coach Nolan Landy wasn’t thrilled that his team went from relaxed to flat, but with a big week coming up, it wasn’t a bad time for a reminder of where the intensity level needs to be. The ’Canes were 11-2 in Division II heading into crucial games against Classical, Juanita Sanchez and East Providence.
“We need a better effort,” Landy said. “I just told them, ‘If you put that kind of effort out next week, you’re not going to like the results.’ We’ve got about three weeks of baseball left and we can’t have these type of efforts. We need to bring our best every single day, and that’s what we’re drilling into these guys.”
Both teams used multiple pitchers and emptied the bench as Saturday’s game wore on, but Pilgrim’s offense was a constant. The Pats had 10 hits, four that went for extra bases. After a week where they lost a 2-0 and a 1-0 game, it was a welcome change.
“Offensively, it was a tough week,” Bailey said. “Pitching and defense has been there all year. We play games in an hour and 45 minutes. You come 10 minutes late, you’re going to miss two innings. We needed to get this going as we get ready for the playoffs. I think the kids were starting to feel a little pressure at the plate. Every day is a clean slate and they need to know that.”
Joe Paliotte led the Pilgrim offense with an inside-the-park home run, a triple, two runs scored and five RBI. It was the second big game of the season for Paliotte against a Warwick rival. Against Toll Gate in April, he had two triples and three RBI.
Ryan Morris added a triple, Bryant Palermo and Anthony Russo had doubles and Mike Broccoli, Andrew Swain, Brandon Paiva and Chris Ray had a base hit each.
The Pats did much of their damage against Vets starter Shane Kittila, one of the team’s top three pitchers.
“We executed at the plate,” Bailey said. “We used a squeeze, we moved guys over. When we have the opportunity, that’s the kind of offense we have to play.”
In addition to the offensive boost, Pilgrim got two good innings on the mound from Morris, the former ace who is working his way back from an injury that kept him out all of last year. Morris has been in the everyday lineup for the Pats all season, but had only pitched in game action twice, most recently on April 18.
On Saturday, Morris allowed one hit and one walk in two innings. He struck out one.
“He had a great bullpen earlier in the week and he’s feeling good,” Bailey said. “He’s been working hard. We’ll assess him again mid-week. Hopefully, we’ll have a few scrimmages next weekend before the playoffs and we can assess again. Whatever he can give us, it’s a bonus with the pitching we have.”
Stephen Noti, Mike Broccoli, Chris Duchesneau, Darren Grant and Robert Garceau also pitched for the Pats and combined to let Vets to one run on four hits.
“Our pitching is going to keep us in every game,” Bailey said.
The Pats visit Middletown today at 4 p.m., before closing the regular season Thursday at home against Toll Gate at 3:30 p.m.
Vets is set for a week that will determine their spot in the final Division II standings. With three wins, they could finish first in Division II-Central. With a few losses, they could also end up as low as fourth.
“Three games,” Landy said. “We either win it or we finish somewhere in between. It’s going to be an interesting week. The guys are excited.”
The ’Canes were scheduled to play Classical on Monday, with results unavailable at press time. They’ll play Juanita Sanchez on Wednesday before finishing the regular season Thursday with a marquee game against East Providence, who’s in first place.