The Pilgrim baseball team had a bad day last Wednesday. Six errors led to seven unearned runs in a loss to Portsmouth.
Luckily for the Pats, they didn’t have to wait very long to turn the page.
Playing the very next day, Pilgrim used a tough pitching performance from junior Elijah Dressel and much-improved defense to get by Barrington 3-2.
The Pats improved to 2-1 in Division I with the win and got the bad taste out of their mouth from the lackluster showing against Portsmouth. Barrington is currently 1-2.
“The best thing about today is that we played today,” said Pilgrim head coach Scott Bailey. “We didn’t play all that well yesterday. We gave up seven unearned runs. We had six errors. But the best thing is that we were able to come back today, and we played a good game defensively.”
Pilgrim made just one error in the game, and Dressel kept the Eagles off balance despite not having great command or the usual burst in his fastball. He pitched 5.1 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits while walking five and striking out seven.
Mike Broccoli came on in relief in the sixth inning and got out of a two-on, one-out jam, then threw a scoreless seventh to finish the job.
“Elijah didn’t have his stuff going,” Bailey said. “He battled through it. His breaking stuff was pretty good, his fastball was a little flat. Same with Broccoli, but both guys battled through it. Those are guys we’re going to go to.”
Barrington’s Matt Ferdenzi matched Dressel most of the way on the mound, as he gave up three runs – two earned – on just four hits in five innings of work. He struck out three batters and walked four.
The Eagles also helped out Pilgrim with a crucial mistake in the seventh inning.
With Broccoli on the mound and the Pats holding a one-run lead, Dan O’Brien doubled down the left field line to lead off the frame. James Murphy came to the plate and tried to bunt an 0-1 pitch, with O’Brien trying to steal third. Murphy missed the pitch, and Pilgrim catcher Evan Broccoli gunned down O’Brien at third to erase a runner representing the tying run.
“He’s been solid behind the plate for us,” Bailey said. “He’s been great for us. And we need to capitalize on other team’s mistakes.”
Mike Broccoli then struck out Murphy on the next pitch and induced a fly out from Quinn Morvillo to end the game.
“We got out of here with the win,” Bailey said.
Offense was tough to come by for Pilgrim all day long, but it still managed to scrape across enough runs to earn the victory. After Barrington took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Murphy that ricocheted off the second base bag, the Pats came right back with a run in the bottom of the frame when Brandon Paiva reached on an infield single, took second on a throwing error, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI groundout by Andrew Swain.
Pilgrim pushed in another run in the third inning, as Paiva walked, stole second and scored on a single to right-center by Swain.
Barrington tied the score in the fifth inning in similar fashion, as Ferdenzi walked, stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and came around on an RBI single by O’Brien.
Again though, the Pats immediately responded, as Paiva reached on another infield single, stole second again, advanced to third on a balk and scored on a groundout by Chris Ray.
“Offense, we’re having better at-bats, but we still need to execute,” Bailey said.
Meanwhile, Dressel had to battle all day to keep Barrington from breaking out. The Eagles stranded 10 runners, including potentially game-changing runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
In the fifth, after Ferdenzi scored, O’Brien took second on a wild pitch with no outs. Dressel bore down, striking out Nathan Bannon, Murphy and Morvillo in a row to end the inning. After falling behind Bannon 1-0, Dressel threw nine consecutive strikes.
“He battles,” Bailey said. “He works at it. He battled right through it. He was pumping his fist, pumping his hand in his glove. That’s what he does.”
In the sixth, Dressel retired the first man before walking the next two. Bailey brought in Broccoli, and he promptly walked the first man he saw to load the bases with one out.
The next batter was Ferdenzi, and he hit a hard liner to left field, but Joe Paliotte made the catch and a strong throw home, holding the runner on third. Broccoli then got O’Brien to line out to second to retire the side.
The Pats went on to their second win in three games to start the season, already halfway to their four-win total of last season. On Saturday, the Pats added an 11-2 non-league win over Lincoln.
Pilgrim was scheduled to play on Monday at North Kingstown, with the results unavailable at press time. Then it’s on to another tough one, as Moses Brown comes to Pilgrim for a 4 p.m. game on Wednesday.
“The kids are working hard,” Bailey said. “They’re here everyday, working hard everyday.”