The Warwick Vets baseball team has had plenty of moments it will look back upon fondly this season, but Thursday was not one of them.
Facing elimination in the Division I playoffs, the ’Canes just couldn’t seem to get anything going against cross-town rival Pilgrim. The Pats, on the other hand, got a dominant performance on the mound from sophomore Billy Morris and used an eight-run fourth inning to advance with a 10-0, five-inning mercy-rule victory.
“We felt good,” Vets head coach Nolan Landy said. “We had BP before we came over. It just seemed like we got here, we were flat and we couldn’t get out of it.”
The loss was the second consecutive for Vets in the playoffs, as it fell 3-2 to South Kingstown two days earlier, and this one ended its season.
And while it was not the way the ’Canes were hoping their season would finish, it was still a chance to reflect on their resurgent 8-10 year, the program’s best season since 2007, when it also went 8-10.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Landy said. “These guys gave me their best every single day. That’s all I ask for. Each and every guy who puts that uniform on gave me everything they had.”
Pilgrim advanced to play La Salle on Sunday, where it knocked the Rams out of the postseason with a 2-1 win.
The Pats looked like they had the upper hand all day on Thursday, as they put two runners on base against Vets starter Kevin Hickey in the first inning before Hickey was able to get out of the jam unscathed.
In the second, Pilgrim didn’t squander its opportunity. Kevin Conway led off with a single after an 11-pitch at-bat, and Brett Ferguson walked. After a passed ball advanced the runners to second and third, Cole Furney brought them both in with a single to left for a 2-0 lead.
“We’ve hit the kid Hickey decently – he’s a good pitcher, one of the best in the league,” Pilgrim head coach Ed Colvin said. “We came out and swung the bats.”
Morris worked around a leadoff walk to T.J. Boyajian in the first, a leadoff single by Hickey in the second and a two-out single by Boyajian in the third, keeping the ’Canes off the scoreboard.
Hickey – nursing a shoulder injury on the mound – stranded two runners in the third, but couldn’t quite find a way in the fourth.
After he retired the first man, Furney reached on a bunt single, stole second and then came around on a single by Shawn Clayton.
That drove Hickey from the game, and Landy brought in sophomore Danny Greaves.
“Hickey battled,” Landy said. “He battled out there. He wasn’t 100 percent, but that’s what I expect from him. He did a good job.”
Nick McGuirl greeted Greaves with a single, and Vets then intentionally walked No. 3 hitter Branden Hoxsie to load the bases.
From there, the Pats simply caught fire.
Colin Douglas singled in a run, as did Conway. Two more runs came home on an infield error on a ball hit by Ferguson, and a double by Mark Lenz scored two more runs. A double by Furney – his second hit of the inning – brought home Pilgrim’s 10th run.
For the game, the Pats racked up 15 hits.
“We stayed back,” Colvin said. “We told them, you’re going to get changeups, you’re going to get breaking balls. And we did a good job.”
In the top of the fifth, needing a run to stay alive, Vets loaded the bases on three consecutive one-out walks from Morris. But Morris induced a pop-up from Bryan O’Mara and then struck out Greaves looking to end the game.
Morris allowed just three hits on the day, while striking out six batters and walking four.
“Today we just kind of came out flat,” Landy said. “It rolled, it just continued.”
The loss marked the end of the road for Vets’ three seniors – Hickey, Shane Johnson and Tyler Rice.
It also was the end of Landy’s first season at the helm, one in which the team won three more games than it had the previous two years combined.
“These guys all jelled,” Landy said. “I told them, nobody expected us to be here. They need to keep their heads high.”