Richard Sinapi stressed the importance of getting runs early to his St. Greg’s baseball team prior to the third-place game of the 28th annual Red Andrews Tournament against Warwick American on Saturday.
After two innings and four runs, it was clear the message had gotten through. That set the stage for an 8-6 victory for St. Greg’s, giving it a strong finish and the third-place trophy to boot.
“That’s what I told those guys,” Sinapi, the team’s manager, said. “‘Come out, top of the order, you’ve got to get some runs.’”
St. Greg’s scored two runs in each of the first and second innings, and it added a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings as well. American battled back in the fifth thanks to some control issues on the mound for St. Greg’s, but it ultimately wasn’t quite enough. American was forced to settle for fourth place, which it still considered a solid showing.
“They didn’t quit,” American manager Mike Cook said. “We played the whole game, they just out-played us is all.”
The trouble started for American early, as St. Greg’s Will Fox led off the game with a single off American starter Cameron Armenti, moved to second on a passed ball and scored two batters later on a single by Alex Sinapi. Sinapi later scored on a single by Michael Murphy, making the score 2-0.
The following inning, Cody Marot singled to lead off, and he came home on a hard-hit RBI double by Nate McCamish. A groundout by Ryan Maxwell scored McCamish to give St. Greg’s a quick 4- 0 lead.
“I was very happy with the way the boys played,” Richard Sinapi said. “They focused, they got in front. They hit the ball, they played good defense and they had fun.”
American certainly didn’t quit. Facing Jack Hogan, American loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the second thanks to three walks, and Emidio de Souza Rosa scored on an infield single by Jacob Paul, cutting the deficit to 4-1. In the third, it got another run back when Jake Randall scored from third on a double steal to make it 4-2.
“We fought back and just never quit,” Cook said. “They’re a good group of kids.”
Still, St. Greg’s never lost control. It failed to score in the fifth against Randall, who came on to pitch, but did pick up two more the next inning, both with two outs. Hogan singled, moved to second on a walk by Marot, took third on a wild pitch and then scored on one as well. Another wild pitch later brought home Marot.
An inning later, Adam Zelano worked a one-out walk, and Lucas Zelano followed that with a single off of Randall. Fox kept the line moving with a single of his own, but American was able to throw out Adam Zelano at the plate to keep the score 6-2.
Undeterred, though, St. Greg’s had the answer. Alex Sinapi laced a single to left, scoring two more runs.
Suddenly St. Greg’s held an 8-2 lead.
Sinapi took the mound in the bottom half of the frame, and American again tried to mount a comeback. Armenti reached on an error to start and what followed was five walks and a single, pulling American within two runs at 8-6. Eric Roderick and Brandon Leach each had bases loaded walks in the inning.
With one out and the bases still loaded, Richard Sinapi went to the bullpen and put in Murphy, and he answered the call. He struck out the first two batters he faced on just eight total pitches, stranding the go-ahead run at first base and keeping St. Greg’s in front.
“He did a great job,” Sinapi said of Murphy. “Came in, put out the fire and made it exciting.”
For American, it was a missed opportunity.
“I think he threw us off a little bit,” Cook said. “He wasn’t as fast as the other guy. Our timing was off.”
Kyle Reiff came in to pitch for American in the top of the sixth, and he held St. Greg’s scoreless, but Murphy returned to his spot on the mound for the bottom half and picked up right where he left off.
He struck out the first man he faced – his third strikeout in as many batters – before getting a pop up for the second out. Randall kept American’s hopes alive with a double to left, but Murphy retired the final man he faced to end the game.
“I think everybody was focused,” Sinapi said. “Alex was a little wild there. I think everyone stayed focused. I don’t think anyone got rattled.”
American wasn’t distraught following the game, as it reflected on a positive tournament. It won its opening game 10-0, fought down to the final pitch in its last game and had fun doing it along the way.
Especially at this tournament, that’s the most important thing.
“The kids all had a good time,” Cook said. “We’re proud of them. They’re happy. That’s all that matters.”