Senerchia Post 74 spent the last week swinging metal bats at the Cooper’s Cave American Legion Baseball Tournament in upstate New York. The return to Rhode Island competition on Tuesday also meant a return to wood bats, and manager Chris Sheehan expected an adjustment period.
But even a switch from metal to wood is no match for the roll Senerchia is on.
After going 6-5 in its first 11 games, Senerchia won three in a row then made it to the semifinals at the New York tournament.
On Tuesday, it was more of the same. Senerchia traveled to Johnston Memorial Park to take on Hurd Auto and left with a 13-0 victory, stretching its league winning streak to four. Anthony Cofone tossed five shutout innings and the offense pounded 14 hits.
Senerchia is now 10-5.
“We’re playing pretty good baseball right now,” Sheehan said.
Tuesday’s blowout means Senerchia has scored at least nine runs in each of its last four league games and has outscored opponents 46-3 in the winning streak. The game was also the third straight shutout.
New England Frozen Lemonade/Shields Post 43 remains ahead of Senerchia in the Central Division Standings and has the inside track at one of the four playoff byes. The byes go to the three division winners, plus the team with the next best record.
Senerchia’s hot streak has put the team in that conversation.
Tuesday’s win helped the cause.
Hurd, which has some crucial games ahead, opted to use position player Scott Iacobucci on the mound to save its pitching staff, and Senerchia took advantage. The team scored five runs in the second and blew the game completely open with eight runs in the fourth.
“To be honest, I expected the bats to struggle a little bit,” Sheehan said. “We just came back from a tournament where we used a metal bat. Going back to the wood, I kind of expected a drop-off but we had some really good swings and we didn’t try to do too much.”
Brady Chant started the big second inning with a base hit, and Sam Boulanger reached on an error. Mike Webb followed with an RBI single.
After a walk to Kevin Sutyla, Matt Murphy legged out an infield hit to drive in another run. Mike King then smacked a two-run double to the gap in right-center, making it 4-0. Murphy scored on a wild pitch for the 5-0 lead.
Iacobucci pitched a scoreless third but Senerchia went back to work in the fourth. A walk to Murphy and an error on a ball off King’s bat put two on with nobody out, and Senerchia didn’t waste the chance. Three straight doubles by Gian Martellini, Nick Boland and Brady Chant tacked on four more runs.
Later in the inning, Sutyla, Murphy and Martellini delivered RBI singles as Senerchia opened up a 13-0 lead.
“We’ve got four games we need to win, and I wasn’t counting on this one anyway,” said Hurd manager Mike Cantone. “It is what it is. I was hoping maybe we would keep it close and then bring in a pitcher. It didn’t work out that way, but we’ll be alright.”
As it turned out, one run would have been enough for Cofone. The rising junior gave up a double to Mike Pennacchia in the first inning then didn’t allow another hit. He struck out six and finished with a flourish, punching out the side in the bottom of the fifth as the mercy rule ended the game.
“Cofone was awesome,” Sheehan said. “That’s the best I’ve seen him throw. He had all his pitches working, throwing strikes, good velocity.”
Cofone also needed just 67 pitches to get through five innings. The bullpen didn’t have to do a thing, and with seven more games in seven days to end the regular season, that was a perfect first step.
“We’ve got a tough stretch right now – it’s every day until next Tuesday,” Sheehan said. “This was great because we conserved our pitching.”
In addition to its winning streak in Rhode Island, Senerchia had a solid showing at the Cooper’s Cave Tournament. It lost its semifinal game by just one run.
“We had a good run,” Sheehan said. “It was a good showing. We were proud of our guys.”
Senerchia is now set for a sprint to the finish, with an eye on one of the playoff byes. Teams that don’t receive a bye will play in a three-game series for a berth in the final eight, which follows a double-elimination format.
“If we can win out or have a good finish, we’ll be in contention for a bye, and that would be huge,” Sheehan said. “That’s the main goal. But even if we don’t get the bye, I trust that we have enough pitching to get through a series.”
Senerchia was slated to play West Warwick Post Two on Wednesday, with results unavailable at press time. It hosts North Providence Post 29 Senators today at 5:30 p.m.