The Bishop Hendricken baseball team has won a lot of games in a lot of different ways over the years.
None of them have been like Sunday.
After eight hit batters, a player charging the mound, three ejections and three extra innings, the Hawks got clutch performances from two of the unlikeliest players on their roster to outlast Coventry 3-2 in 10 innings at McCarthy Stadium in game two of their Division I semifinal series.
The win, coupled with Saturday’s 3-2 victory for Hendricken in game one, sent the Hawks to the state championship series at McCoy Stadium against either Cumberland or South Kingstown, scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Getting there was far from easy.
After starter Mike King was thrown out of the game in the top of the seventh for hitting his fourth batter, Hendricken went to the bullpen four times until it found junior Jake Newberry.
Newberry, pitching for the first time in a league game all season, threw three shutout innings of relief – and escaped a based-loaded, nobody out situation in the bottom of the eighth – to keep the game tied at two.
And in the 10th, junior Rob Henry – hitting in King’s spot in the order – came through with an RBI single to plate the go-ahead run, sending Hendricken to the finals.
On a team with seven players committed to play college baseball, it was Newberry and Henry who were mobbed after the final out.
“Oh man, it’s crazy,” Newberry said. “I go on the mound and I feel like I have the world in my hands. I did it for my friends. I did it for my team. I did it for my school.”
For a school with so much baseball history, it truly was a game unlike any other.
The drama began in the fifth inning, with Hendricken holding a 2-1 lead. King, who had already hit two batters on the day, including Coventry second baseman Alex Zannella – who he hit with a fastball in the third inning – hit Zannella a second time on a 1-1 curveball with one out.
Zannella took exception. He took off for the mound, and proceeded to grab King by the shirt while the umpires, coaches and players all came running out.
Hendricken third baseman Reed Gamache was the first person there, and he ripped Zannella away from King before they were separated.
As a result of the scrum, Zannella and Gamache were ejected, while a warning was issued to both sides.
“There was some controversy,” Holloway said.
King was left in the game, and he certainly didn’t appear rattled. He retired the next six men in order, working flawlessly through the fifth and the sixth.
Meanwhile, Coventry starter Matthew Laferriere – who pitched all 10 innings on the day – stranded Hendricken’s Billy Walker after a leadoff double in the sixth, and he got out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh.
In that seventh inning, Laferriere hit Hendricken’s Justin Finan with a pitch, but no action was taken.
Then, with the Hawks still holding that slim 2-1 lead, King took the hill in the seventh with a chance to finish the game, but he hit Colin Gallagher in the back and was promptly ejected by the home plate umpire.
“I hit a kid on a curveball,” King said. “The last one I went fastball in, and just missed it too far in. There was no intent of hitting them. The pitches just got away from me.”
King and Holloway tried to plead their case, but the umpire wouldn’t budge, and the Hawks were forced to adjust, as they brought in C.J. Maderios from the bullpen to replace King.
“My thing is, after the thing on the mound, [the umpire] warned both teams,” Holloway said. “Then their pitcher hit a batter in our inning, and he didn’t toss him. Then King hit the kid, and he tossed him. He warned both teams, and he didn’t toss their pitcher out. So I didn’t think he was going to do it, and then he threw King out, that’s what I questioned.”
Maderios was greeted with a single by Laferriere. A bunt down the third base line by Alex Bolcon that third baseman Matt Murphy threw wide of first loaded the bases with nobody out.
Holloway made the move to bring in senior Bobby Indeglia – one of the team’s top pitchers – from right field.
And, after just seven pitches, Indeglia had struck out two Coventry batters, putting Hendricken one out away from advancing. But on a 2-2 count, Troy Fredette lined a single to left field, scoring Gallagher to tie the game.
Indeglia got out of the inning with a groundball to second, but the damage was done and the game moved to extras.
Laferriere hit Indeglia to lead off the top of the eighth, but the Hawks couldn’t get him around.
Needing to keep Indeglia fresh in case it lost and had to play a deciding game three the following day, Hendricken went to the bullpen again in the bottom of the eighth and brought in junior Jarek Krajewski.
But Krajewski hit the first man he saw, Brandon Sullivan, then walked Kevin Donilon on four pitches. That was enough for Holloway to make another move, and he brought in Newberry.
Newberry promptly hit Gallagher to load the bases with nobody out.
With the winning run just 90 feet away, though, Newberry stayed calm.
“The pressure was enormous,” Newberry said. “It was crazy. I was going through my mind, ‘Just throw a strike. Coach always says just throw a strike.’ That’s the name of the game.”
Newberry induced a groundball to shortstop Rich Bacon. He threw low to home, but Walker scooped the ball for the first out. The next batter hit a groundball to Umberto at second, and he too threw home to get an out. Finally, the third batter hit a ball in between first and second, but Umberto ranged to his left and threw perfectly to Newberry, covering first, to somehow get the Hawks out of the jam.
“That was huge,” Holloway said. “We’ve got confidence, and we knew the ball would be hit. Hopefully it would be right at someone. It was, and we made the plays.”
In the ninth, Hendricken stranded two more runners, but Newberry kept it tied with a one-two-three bottom half, moving the game deeper into extras.
In the top of the 10th, Indeglia led off with a single, and he stole second three pitches later. Murphy then advanced Indeglia to third with a fly ball to right field, bringing Henry to the plate.
Henry hadn’t been a factor offensively all season long for the Hawks – when he played in the field, he was often DH-ed for – and he had struck out looking on three pitches in his first plate appearance on Sunday, back in the eighth.
But this time he jumped on the first pitch, lacing a hard single between third and short to plate Indeglia with the go-ahead run.
“I was thinking about that first at-bat when I got to the plate,” Henry said. “I haven’t hit all playoffs. I’ve been DH-ed for. Getting those at-bats in practice have been helping me. That at-bat pushed me to get a hit in that second at-bat. I wanted to get a hit, do it for them.”
Hendricken still had to finish the job in the bottom of the 10th, and they sent Newberry back to the mound needing three outs to advance to the state championship.
Newberry got a lineout from Brandon Sullivan for the first out, and then walked Donilon. But Newberry followed that by retiring Gallagher on a fly ball to center field, and he got Laferriere to ground to second to finish the game.
“It’s an awesome feeling just knowing that the guys that didn’t really get much time stepped it up,” King said. “They really proved themselves.”
King’s line was impressive, as he pitched six-plus innings, giving up just two hits. He was charged with two runs, and he also walked one man and hit four.
Newberry pitched three scoreless innings, allowing no hits with one walk and a hit batter.
“A lot of guys contributed, a lot of guys got in to play,” Holloway said. “It’s huge for a kid like Newberry to come in and do the job for us.”
Hendricken’s first two runs came in the third, when Bacon singled in Umberto with two outs, and Tom Pannone followed that with an RBI double, putting the Hawks up 2-0.
Coventry struck back in the fourth, getting its first run on an RBI single by Donilon.
The Hawks will find out their opponent in the championship series tonight. South Kingstown and Cumberland are scheduled to play the third and deciding game of their semifinal series at McCarthy Stadium, with the winner moving on to play Hendricken.
Game one of the championship series is Wednesday, while game two is Thursday. Game three, if necessary would be Friday. Because of their ejections, both King and Gamache will likely be suspended for the first game of the series.