Until the Pilgrim baseball team gets more comfortable at the plate, the Pats aren’t going to out-slug many teams in Division I.
On Monday afternoon, they didn’t have to.
Junior ace Stephen Noti overcome some early control issues to strike out 11 Barrington hitters in six innings of work, while limiting the Eagles to just two runs, and Pilgrim scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth courtesy of two Barrington wild pitches to earn its first win of the season, 3-2.
It was the perfect recipe for the Pats, who had come up just short in their first two league games. They lost 2-1 to Coventry on April 8, and then fell 4-2 to Portsmouth on April 11. Against the Eagles, a close game finally went their way, as they improved to 1-2. Barrington fell to 1-2.
“I felt pretty good,” Noti said. “I thought we really needed to get a win finally. I went out there, tried my hardest.”
Noti walked four batters in the first two innings, but walked only two after that. He scattered six hits over his six innings of work, while throwing 107 pitches. He also picked off two base runners.
But the strongest portion of the day for Noti came in his final three innings. He struck out the side in order in the fourth, then struck out three more in the fifth after allowing runners to reach second and third with nobody out. In the sixth, he struck out the first two men – giving him eight straight outs recorded by strikeout – allowed a single to Brett Fay and then promptly picked Fay off of first to end the inning.
“Noti, he’s got a live arm,” Pilgrim head coach Ed Colvin said. “At times he goes out there and he doesn’t have a good fastball, but we know he can throw hard. He was bringing it today.”
And with Noti keeping the Pats in the game, they took advantage of a rough inning for Barrington in the eighth.
Facing Barrington pitcher Retsyn Ootton, Luke Verrier grounded to second before Devon Gamba reached base on an infield error. After a fielder’s choice off the bat of Elijah Dressell erased Gamba and left Dressell at first with two outs, the tide started to turn.
On an 0-2 pitch to Brett Ferguson, Dressell took off for second and got there easily. Barrington catcher Tyler Thomas couldn’t locate the ball after the pitch – it had rolled to the back stop – and Dressell took third without a throw.
Two pitches later, Ferguson struck out swinging on a curveball in the dirt, but that ball got away from Thomas as well, and Ferguson scampered safely to first base. Meanwhile, Dressell charged home with the go-ahead run.
“We got the break,” Colvin said. “Two passed balls, one allows him to go to third and then the winning run. That’s baseball though. Like I told the kids, ‘You’re only in position to get those breaks by playing well.’ And we played well.”
Pilgrim still had to get through the bottom of the eighth to pick up its first league win of the season, and it sent Dressell back to the mound for his second inning of work. In the seventh inning, Dressell had set the Eagles down 1-2-3.
The sophomore picked up right where he left off when he took the hill for the eighth, striking out Quinn Morvillo on three pitches, retiring Jacob Ray on a soft liner to Gamba at second and then ending the game when Denali Sexton hit a hard liner to Gamba, who leaped to make the catch.
“The kid Dressell, who we’re trying to get to throw hard too – he’s a big strong kid. He’s got great junk – and he was throwing gas too,” Colvin said.
After leaving the bases loaded in the first and stranding another runner in the second, Barrington struck first in the game when it got to Noti in the third.
Noti hit Matt Ferdenzi to open the inning, then gave up a single to Nathan Bannon. A flyout and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, and a single by Ray brought in the game’s first run.
Ferguson, playing right field, helped limit the damage when he charged Ray’s single and threw it to Verrier at first, who threw home to catcher Tyler Galligan to get Bannon at the plate for the second out of the inning. A groundout then ended the frame.
Pilgrim came back to tie the score in the top of the fourth off Barrington starter Dan O’Brien on an RBI single by Ferguson, scoring Chris Ray, who had singled to open the inning. In the fifth, the Pats went on top 2-1 on an RBI groundout by Verrier, scoring Mark Lenz.
Barrington’s second run came in the fifth inning when Noti allowed a bunt single to Ferdenzi, walked Bannon and then gave up an RBI single to Ootton. But Noti struck out the next three men to keep the score tied.
“He dominated,” Colvin said of Noti. “It was a dominating performance, it really was. Second and third, he struck out the side. And it was mostly fastballs. We were just putting down the one and he was bringing it. I wish I had a gun, because he was bringing it. He was throwing hard.”
Barrington out-hit Pilgrim six to four, but the Pats found a way to get the job done. They also drew four walks.
“The pitching’s been there,” Colvin said. “We’re not going to crush the ball, but we can be pesky up there.”
Pilgrim was scheduled to take on North Kingstown at home on Wednesday, with the results unavailable at press time. On Friday, the Pats will travel to 1-2 Moses Brown and send Dressell to the mound for a 4 p.m. game.