Late surge helps Hawks edge Titans

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A crosstown battle on the diamond between Toll Gate and Hendricken didn’t disappoint last Wednesday, as the Hawks outlasted the Titans, 2-1, in a pitchers’ duel.

The Titans were in command for the first four and a half innings after scratching a run across in the top of the first, but Hendricken would finally get to Toll Gate starter Dave Defusco for a run in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Ernesto Espinal, tying the score at 1.

Hawks’ sophomore outfielder Tucker Flint then led off the bottom half of the sixth by using his speed to turn a routine single into a double, before moving to third on an error. He would jog in for the eventual game-winning run when Jordan Carvalho muscled a grounder through the Titans’ drawn-in infield to lift Hendricken to the 2-1 victory.

Senior southpaw Dylan McCormick went five strong innings for Hendricken, allowing one run and striking out seven, before giving way to sophomore left-hander Kyle Marrapese, who picked up the win, striking out two over the final two frames without giving up a hit.

The victory was much-needed for the Hawks (4-5), who had dropped their previous two games to South Kingstown and La Salle.

“We needed a win,” Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway said. “We got great efforts from Dylan McCormick and Kyle Marrapese. It was our plan to go with Dylan, and then Kyle is like our closer. They both did a great job and kept us in the game. We made some mistakes offensively, so we were lucky to hang in there and grab a win.”

Toll Gate put the Hawks on their heels on their home turf right out of the gate.

Defusco drew a leadoff walk against McCormick in the top of the first, before promptly stealing second and third.

With one down, Marcus Alexander hit a fly ball deep enough to centerfield to allow Defusco to tag up and sprint home to give the Titans an early, 1-0 lead.

And that slim advantage would stand up for quite a while with Defusco on the hill. He cruised through the first two innings without breaking a sweat, but Hendricken would put the first two hitters on base in the bottom of the third, as Kevin Gower singled and Andrew Hopgood reached on an error. But, Defusco was able to bear down and escape the inning unscathed, getting Jaimen Albizu to hit into a force out at third, and David Bordieri followed by grounding into a double play to get Toll Gate out of the jam.

Toll Gate had an opportunity to up its lead in the top of the fifth after back-to-back, two-out singles by Defusco and Nick Cehelsky. McCormick was able to get Alexander to fly out to right field, though, keeping the deficit at just one for the Hawks.

Control issues plagued Defusco in the bottom of the fifth.

Hendricken freshman shortstop Domenic Crocenzi singled to lead off the inning, but he was picked off by Alexander shortly after.

With one out, Defusco then walked Andrew Flint, hit Gower with a pitch and walked Hopgood to load the bases.

Espinal then entered the batter’s box as a pinch-hitter and hit a sacrifice fly to left field that brought Andrew Flint in from third as the tying run.

After Marrapese retired the Titans in order in the top of the sixth, Tucker Flint doubled and advanced to third on an error to start the bottom of the inning.

“We needed a spark, and that was definitely the spark that we needed,” Holloway said of Tucker Flint stretching a single into a double to start the sixth. “It was huge.”

In an attempt to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring, Toll Gate brought its infield in, and Carvalho hit a grounder off Cehelsky, who came on in relief of Defusco, that was too hot to handle for Titans’ shortstop Matt Martinez, rolling into the outfield and allowing Tucker Flint to score to make it 2-1.

Marrapese retired the side in the seventh to secure the win for Hendricken.

The Titans (6-4) would bounce back with a 5-0 victory against East Providence on Thursday, with Cehelsky tossing a complete-game shutout to get Toll Gate in the win column once again.

“Coming off back-to-back four-win seasons and now to be competing with good teams like Hendricken, it’s good to see,” Toll Gate head coach Nick Durand said. “The program is on the up and up, and I’m excited to see what the rest of the season has for us.”

The Titans were set to travel to Central on Monday, but results from that game were unavailable at press time.

Toll Gate will also host La Salle (8-2) at Mickey Stevens on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Conversely, results from Hendricken’s game against North Kingstown on Monday were also unavailable.

The Hawks will make the short trip to Pilgrim (5-4) today to take on the Pats at 3:45 p.m.

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