Pilgrim got a big starting pitching performance from Elijah Dressel in a win over fourth-place Moses Brown last Friday. On Monday, Stephen Noti followed suit and set the Pats up for another impressive win.
But there wasn’t enough beyond the starting pitching.
Noti took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against South Kingstown. He left with the no-hitter still intact – but not before things had unraveled. Two errors and a hit-batsman set the stage for the Rebels to score two runs on bases-loaded walks by the Pilgrim bullpen. With the Pats’ offense struggling, those runs were the difference in a 2-0 South Kingstown victory.
The Pats ended up allowing one hit. They had five hits of their own, but Rebels starter Brad Douglas and reliever Jeff Christina worked out of trouble every time it cropped up.
The result was a frustrating day.
“Absolutely, it hurts,” said Pilgrim head coach Scott Bailey. “It was a tough day at the plate. Their lefty did a great job. We lost our composure a little bit and it got the best of us. We’re going to have to suffer the consequences and deal with it.”
Pilgrim fell to 7-8 with the loss, while South Kingstown improved to 8-6 and remained in the top half of the Division I-South standings. Pilgrim is in sixth place.
The Patriots are still in prime position for a playoff spot, but a win over the Rebels would have been a nice feather in their cap.
Noti had his team set up for it. He walked six in the first five innings but was otherwise dominant. He struck out five, including three in the third inning, picking up steam as he went along.
“He’s been doing it all year,” Bailey said. “Steve, Elijah, Mike Broccoli, Chris Duchesneau – this is what I expect from those guys. They’ve done a great job all year.”
Noti had retired six in a row heading into the sixth inning, but he hit immediate trouble. Robert Ballinger led off with a fly ball to left field that carried away from left-fielder Joe Paliotte and popped out of his glove.
Greg Ballinger followed with a bunt and Noti misfired on a throw to first, giving the Rebels second and third with nobody out.
“Couple of mistakes, and they hurt,” Bailey said. “Pitching didn’t get the support today.”
Noti hit the next batter to load the bases, and with his pitch count over 100, Bailey called to the bullpen. Mike Broccoli came in and nearly escaped, getting a fly-out from Kevin Roberts and a force-out at home on a ground ball to first from Ryan Worthington.
But the full escape didn’t happen.
Broccoli walked Andrew Benford on a 3-1 pitch to force in the game’s first run. When he expressed his displeasure, he was ejected. Duchesneau came in and also issued a bases-loaded walk before Pilgrim finally got out of trouble.
“Mike came in and got two outs,” Bailey said. “Law of averages – a run’s going to score. He lost his composure. It was an emotional game.”
The Rebels finally broke up the no-hitter in the seventh on a leadoff single by Ryan Chadwick, but he was stranded at third by Duchesneau, keeping it a 2-0 game.
The Pats just couldn’t rally.
They went down in order in the seventh as Christina picked up the save. He allowed one hit in two innings, after Douglas had scattered four hits in five innings of work.
The quiet ending capped a disappointing day at the plate for the Pats, who missed golden opportunities in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Duchesneau singled and Broccoli and Paliotte walked to load the bases with one out. But two fly-outs ended the inning.
In the sixth, Bryant Palermo drew a walk and Evan Broccoli singled but Duchesneau grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
For the game, Pilgrim left eight runners on base.
“Big situations,” Bailey said. “It was very frustrating. We’ve got to keep plugging away.”
The Pats were scheduled to be back in action Wednesday against East Greenwich, with results unavailable at press time. They’ll play Warwick Vets in a non-league game Saturday before closing out the regular season with games against Middletown and Toll Gate next week.
“The focus is East Greenwich,” Bailey said. “One day at a time.”