For whatever reason, it took the Warwick Vets baseball team a little while to feel comfortable early this season. It might have been the move down to Division II, or the breaking in of some younger players, but the ’Canes struggled at the start.
They’re not struggling anymore.
On Thursday, Vets knocked off Juanita Sanchez 16-1 in a mercy-ruled, six-inning game. It was the third win in the past four league games for the ’Canes, who are now 3-3 in D-II-Central after beginning the season 0-2.
After struggling offensively in its first two games, where it combined to score just one run, Vets banged out 13 hits against the Cavaliers, coming to life for its biggest outburst of the season. In the last four league games, Vets has scored 40 runs.
The ’Canes also mixed in an 8-7 non-league win over Westerly, making them winners of four of their last five overall.
Juanita Sanchez dropped to 2-5 with the loss.
“We’ve been regionalized with who’s been hitting and who’s not been hitting,” Vets head coach Nolan Landy said. “If you look at the lineup, the top half has been hitting, the bottom half hasn’t been getting any. Today we did, and it was good to see.”
All nine starters had at least one hit, while T.J. Boyajian, Austin Lamaire and Danny Greaves each had two. Greaves led the way with four RBI and a double, while Boyajian had two doubles and two RBI, and Lamaire had a double and an RBI.
Pat DelSanto added an RBI, Steven Denis had three RBI and Adam Dorsey and Adam Morrissette had an RBI apiece.
“We’ve been doing a bunch of different drills at practice,” Greaves said. “I think everyone is just coming through and getting into their groove. Everyone is mashing the ball.”
Vets scored four runs in the first, three in the second, three in the fourth and six in the sixth.
Plus, the pitching was solid. DelSanto started the game on the mound, and he went five innings while allowing just one run on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Shane Kittila came on for the bottom of the sixth inning and retired the side 1-2-3, striking out two batters.
“Small park, I told them you’ve got to work down,” Landy said. “They had to throw off-speed pitches in fastball counts to be successful. They did that.”
The win was gratifying because it came on the heels of a tough loss. Vets fell 5-4 on Wednesday against Classical, as the Purple scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to walk-off with the win.
“Every game we’re taking steps in the right direction,” Landy said. “Today is another step in the right direction. We’re not perfect, but we’re going the right way.”
Vets jumped out to a lead on Juanita right away, as Boyajian and DelSanto reached on walks, and Cavaliers’ starter Luis Gutierrez hit Greaves to load the bases. Lonczak brought two runs in with a single, and two batters later Denis brought in two more with a single of his own.
That made life a little easier on the mound for DelSanto, as he worked out of a two-out, two-on jam in the bottom half with a strikeout of Raffy Adames.
“It feels good (to have the lead), but you can’t let it get to you,” DelSanto said. “You’ve just got to stay strong on the mound and go through it.”
The ’Canes padded their lead in the second when Boyajian doubled and came around on a DelSanto single. Two batters after that, Greaves roped a double into right-center, plating two more for a 7-0 advantage.
DelSanto again worked out of a jam in the second, stranding a runner on third with a strikeout of Francisco Hernandez.
Vets left two men in the third, and DelSanto induced a double play to get out of yet another jam in the bottom half before the ’Canes came back with the bats again in the fourth.
DelSanto reached on an error and Lamaire singeld. Greaves then singled in DelSanto and Denis scored Lamaire on a sacrifice fly. Consecutive walks to Dorsey and Morrisette from Juanita reliever Harold Pereze made it 10-0.
“The bottom line is the hitting,” Landy said. “Today, we hit with guys on base, we hit with guys in scoring position and we made things happen. We didn’t stall on the basepaths and we only had two strikeouts. Strikeouts have been a big problem for us.”
Vets could have ended the game by 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth, but the Cavaliers scratched across a run when Adonis Collado came home on a sacrifice fly by Victor Dilsa.
In the sixth, the ’Canes set out to finish the job. They sent 10 men to the plate, as Dorsey knocked a run home with a single, Boyajian brought in two more with a double, Lamaire plated two with a double of his own and Greaves brought home the 16th run of the game with an RBI groundout.
“It was just kind of like, seal the deal right there,” Greaves said.
Vets is now in fourth place in the division, trailing 7-0 East Providence, 5-1 Central and 4-3 Mt. Pleasant. While the ’Canes have already lost to the Townies and Knights, they can make up some ground by beating Mt. Pleasant, whom they take on today on the road at 4 p.m.
After that, they’ll play at Hope on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
“I think we’re working more as a team,” Greaves said. “I think we’re finally jelling together.”