The last time they met, Senerchia Post 74 and New England Frozen Lemonade/Shields Post 43 played a long, drawn-out game that featured 13 runs and 13 walks. Senerchia out-lasted NEFL for the win in that game.
On Tuesday, the game looked a lot different – a quick, clean pitchers’ duel – but Senerchia still had NEFL’s number. Nick Panarello tossed a complete-game shutout and Senerchia scratched two runs off NEFL starter Corey Muto to post a 2-0 victory. Senerchia improved to 6-10 with the victory while NEFL dropped to 10-4.
With six regular-season games left, Senerchia is hoping to make a playoff push. The team is currently tied with Gordon Greene for the sixth and final playoff spot.
“We have Wednesday off then it’s six games in a row,” said Senerchia coach C.J. Martin. “It’s full throttle from here.”
Tuesday’s win was a strong first step.
Senerchia and NEFL were both coming off strong performances in the Cooper’s Cave Tournament in Saratoga, N.Y., last week. Senerchia went 3-1-1 and made the tournament playoffs, while NEFL advanced to the final four before dropping a 5-4 game.
Back in Rhode Island, Senerchia returned to action Monday and lost a 14-6 game to R&R Construction.
But on Tuesday, Senerchia was back in business.
Facing Muto, Senerchia picked up all the offense it needed in the second inning. Jarek Krajewski led off with a single and Terry DiPetrillo followed with a bunt. NEFL tried to get Krajewski at second and the throw was in time, but shortstop Don McGuirl couldn’t hold on. Senerchia’s Lou Umberto then sacrificed the runners to second and third.
Muto got ahead of ninth-place hitter Ed Markowski 0-2, but on a 1-2 pitch, Markowski hit a line drive to the opposite field for a base hit, scoring Krajewski. Senerchia got its second run when Rob Henry beat out the throw to first on a potential double play.
“We had a huge hit by Markowski right there,” Martin said. “We got our bunts down and we hit the ball hard with runners on base. The approaches were good.”
Muto scattered six hits the rest of the way but didn’t let Senerchia put anything else on the board. He stranded two runners in the fourth and sixth innings and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh.
Unfortunately for NEFL, that didn’t matter. Panarello was cruising for Senerchia.
The 2011 Hendricken grad has been solid all summer, and he took things to another level on Tuesday. He struck out four and allowed just four hits.
“That’s as well as he’s thrown the ball all season,” Martin said. “Lately, it just seems like he’s better and better every outing, and that’s awesome to see. We’re going to need him down the stretch and in the playoffs if we get there.”
NEFL managed just two hits through six innings before threatening in the seventh. After Panarello recorded the first two outs on two pitches, Nick McGuirl reached on an infield hit. Colin Stamps then legged out an infield single, as well, putting two men on.
T.J. Boyajian followed with a line drive to third, but it was hit right at Markowski, who squeezed it for the final out.
Panarello needed just 74 pitches to finish off the complete game.
“He’s throwing strikes and he’s throwing all his pitches for strikes, which is big,” Martin said. “He’s throwing first-pitch fastball, first-pitch changeup, first-pitch curveball, and they’re all going over for strikes. That’s the key right there. He must have gotten ahead of 75 percent of the hitters.”
NEFL’s hitters didn’t do much to make Panarello’s life harder. They swung at the first pitch nine times and got to a three-ball count only four times.
“It was kind of a slow, lazy summer day where we went through the motions,” said NEFL manager Dave McGuirl. “[Panarello] did a good job. We didn’t have too many good at-bats, but he did a good job.”
Branden Hoxsie and Ted Dwyer had the other hits for NEFL, which was hoping to pick up where it left off after a solid performance in New York. NEFL was one of the last four teams standing in a strong field.
“I kind of figured the would come back with a little more motivation, but it was one of those slow days,” McGuirl said. “We didn’t have a lot of emotion.”
On the bright side, Muto was solid. He only struck out one but had solid defense behind him and showed an ability to get out of trouble.
“Corey pitched really well,” McGuirl said. “If you said he was going to hold them to two runs, I would have taken that.”
NEFL was scheduled to return to action Wednesday with a doubleheader against Gershkoff/Auburn Post 20, who has jumped into first place. Results were unavailable at press time.
NEFL has six games remaining after Wednesday, including a key match-up with second-place R&R Construction today at 5 p.m. at Cardines Field in Newport.
Senerchia returns to the field today at 5:30 p.m. for a home game against Shoreline.
The first round of the playoffs is scheduled to begin on Friday, July 22.