October 23, 2014
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Sports Column
Walking into a rare sight

Notes written while nursing some college basketball withdrawal ...

Pattie Turner has been intentionally walked before. On Monday, she became the Rhode Island High School softball version of Barry Bonds.

It was in 1998 that Arizona Diamondbacks manager famously walked Bonds with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a game his team was leading by two runs. The move worked when the next hitter lined out to end the game.

Despite that one-time success, it’s not something you’ll see very often. One website found just six bases-loaded intentional walks in more than 100 years of Major League Baseball history.

Turner, the Toll Gate standout, got the treatment on Monday, getting walked with the bases loaded in the third inning of a scoreless game against Vets. I’d never seen anything like it, and a lot of other people at the field hadn’t either.

It was quite a show of respect, and really, you can’t blame Vets coach Paul Kennedy. When the teams played last year, Turner was a one-woman wrecking crew, hitting two home runs and a triple.

This time, Kennedy’s move actually worked to perfection in that inning. The next two batters made outs and Vets went to the dugout trailing by a run, instead of the three or four Turner could have produced with an extra-base hit.

It only backfired in the sense that Vets didn’t score. The intentional walk produced the only run of the game. I’d never seen anything like that either.

Was it the right call? Well, it did work, and you have to like your chances to come back from a 1-0 deficit. On the flip side, it’s tough to ever give a run away. And as a spectator, I would have liked to see Turner hit in that spot.

Someone with much more time on their hands and much greater math skills than me took to the internet after the Bonds walk and created a chart based on likely outcomes of intentional walks in different scenarios. It incorporates batting averages and ERA and all kinds of statistics you can get lost in. Some situations are black and white – “Do Not Walk” or “Walk Immediately” –but others are labeled “Go With Gut” because the numbers on either side are close and because other factors are in play. The ninth-inning scenario Showalter found himself in was one of those “Go With Gut” moments.

I suspect Monday’s softball scenario was the same kind of thing. It was a bold move, and there are no charts for those.

Sizing up the bats

We’re three games into the high-school baseball season, so it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the new bat regulations that were expected to cause a dip in offensive numbers.

But I do know what I’ve seen – good baseball.

Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but last week’s season opener between Pilgrim and Cranston East was one of the smoothest, most cleanly-played games I’ve seen in a while. Pilgrim won 2-1. The Hendricken game I covered on Tuesday wasn’t quite as clean, but it was close and exciting, too. It was about pitching and defense and scratching runs across.

And the bats do seem to be having an impact. I’ve never seen so many ground balls, or so few long fly balls. It’s a different brand of baseball.

I love it, and I hope it’s here to stay.

Catch a star at CCRI

I wrote a column a few months ago encouraging people to take in a CCRI basketball game, and these days, I’m glad I followed my own advice. The Knights were fun to watch and they made it all the way to the national championship game.

I was also glad I got to see a star in the making.

Desmond Williams had a huge year for the Knights and took his game to a whole new level in the postseason. His 41-point game in the national semifinals turned many a head.

Williams, who’s only a freshman, is expected back at CCRI next year, and he may become the school’s most sought-after recruit ever.

I’ll probably encourage a trip to CCRI next spring too, but go ahead an make a note now. Desmond Williams is one to make time for.

William Geoghegan is the sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and williamg@rhodybeat.com.


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