Tuesday night’s showdown with Gershkoff Auto Body/Auburn Post 20 didn’t end as a loss for Senerchia Post 74, but it sure felt like one.
Senerchia took an early four-run lead but watched Gershkoff come all the way to back to tie the game in the sixth. After two more scoreless innings, darkness settled in over the field and the game was ruled a 6-6 tie just five pitches into the top of the ninth inning.
For Gershkoff, the game felt like a win because of how it battled back. Senerchia wasn’t as pleased with the outcome.
“We had a few missed opportunities in the late innings and didn’t capitalize on the chances,” Senerchia head coach Chris Sheehan said. “You’ve got to execute. If it doesn’t happen, you’re not going to win games.”
The tie moved Senerchia’s record to 7-2-1, while Gershkoff is now 6-3-1.
“Considering the way it started out, in the first inning, we’re very happy with a tie,” Gershkoff assistant coach Chuck Jones said. “I didn’t know there were ties in baseball.”
Gershkoff actually started the game out hot, getting two runs in the top of the first inning off Senerchia starter Dillon Manfredi. The first run came around on a triple from Matt Pagano – who went 4-for-4 with five RBI on the day – and the second run scored on a wild pitch.
But Senerchia came right back in the home half of the inning. Facing Gershkoff starter Bob D’Arezzo, it loaded the bases with nobody out on three consecutive singles by Rob Henry, Sam Boulanger and Rich Bacon, and then got a fourth straight single from Mike King, this one to right field.
A run came home, but Gershkoff right fielder Sean Hayden fired a strike to the plate, getting Boulanger for the first out of the inning.
Still, Senerchia wasn’t done with its rally. P.J. Murray reached on an error, and Bacon came around to tie the score at two. Gian Martellini followed that with a long triple to left field, scoring two more runs, and he scored on a wild pitch on the very next pitch to put Senerchia on top 5-2.
“It looked like he came out in the first inning with just a fastball, and maybe thought he was going to be able to throw it by them,” Jones said of D’Arezzo’s first inning. “But it was up and it was flat.”
Manfredi stranded two Gershkoff baserunners in the second inning, and Senerchia continued its onslaught when it got back up to the plate.
Gary Geisser led off with a walk, and Henry singled to center field. Boulanger laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third before Bacon came through with a hard single up the middle.
Geisser scored easily, but Pagano threw a dart to home, nailing Henry for Hendricken’s second out at home plate in as many innings.
It proved costly, as D’Arezzo escaped the inning with no further damage.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” Sheehan said.
And Gershkoff made them hurt.
It grabbed a run in the third inning to make it 6-3 on an RBI groundout by Joe Nicolace, scoring Pagano. D’Arezzo, meanwhile, suddenly settled in on the mound.
After the second inning, he started working in his curveball and retired 14 of the next 16 batters. The two that did reach got on by errors, and one was quickly erased by a double play in the fifth.
It was a complete turnaround from the first two innings.
“He started everyone off with a breaking ball,” Sheehan said. “His breaking ball got real good. After the third inning he started throwing it for strikes consistently.”
Then in the sixth, Gershkoff came through with the bats. Ivan Reyes took a one-out walk, and Stephen Bucci reached on an error. That was the end of the day for Manfredi, as Sheehan made the call to righthander Jake Newberry out of the bullpen.
Newberry retired John Razzino for the second out of the inning, but then surrendered an infield single to Tyler Collins to load the bases with two outs.
Up stepped Pagano, and on the first pitch he saw he ripped a triple to right-center field, clearing the bases and tying the game at six.
“Matty had a real good game,” Jones said. “He hit the ball really good.”
Senerchia stranded Pagano at third on a lunging play next to the line by Martellini, the third baseman, but Senerchia’s lead was completely gone.
A quick seventh inning sent the game to extras, and Gershkoff then went 1-2-3 against Newberry in the top half of the eighth.
In the bottom, Bacon led off with a walk, and Gershkoff pulled D’Arezzo in favor of Ryan Long.
Long retired King, but then gave up a double to Murray to put runners on second and third with just the one out. A intentional walk to Martellini loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Nick Boland.
Boland hit a hard ground ball to first base, but Razzino was there to make the play and he alertly fired home for the force out. Long then settled down and struck out Lou Umberto to get out of the jam with the game still tied.
“We put Nick Boland to pinch hit for Matt Murphy,” Sheehan said. “Boland has always been a fly ball hitter, so we’re thinking with a guy on third base, sac fly we get him in. It just didn’t work out. The kid made a nice play at first base.”
The two teams came out for the top half of the ninth, but after Newberry threw a few pitches to Collins, the umpire deemed it too dark to continue and the game went into the books as a tie.
Henry and Bacon led the way for Senerchia’s offense with two hits apiece, while Pagano led Gershkoff with his big day.
The two teams won’t have much time off, as they’ll play again tonight at 8 p.m. at Cranston Stadium.