Warwick PAL beat Tiverton, 6-0, in Game 1 of their best-of-3 opening round Connie Mack playoff series at Mickey Stevens on Monday night. Lefty William Martino pitched five innings of shutout ball, finishing with seven strikeouts.
“Will pretty much did what he’s done all year,” Warwick PAL manager Mike Martin said. “Will has been solid for us. He’s thrown two or three complete games for us, so we knew he’d take us deep into the game.”
“Will is strong,” Martin continued. “He doesn’t get rattled when he gets men on base. That doesn’t faze him. He’s got men on base or he doesn’t have men on base, he still pitches the same way. He’s got a good head for the game and he knows what he’s doing out there on the mound.”
Martino began the game by striking out the side in the top of the first inning, and Garrett Nolan got the start on the hill for Tiverton.
Warwick’s Andrew Merryfield led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and first baseman Sean Blanchard followed with a walk. Martin initiated a double steal to move the runners into scoring position. With two outs, Andrew Ekroth hit a 2-RBI infield single to put PAL up 2-0. Ekroth stole second, and catcher Owen Kiernan walked after that. Then, Ekroth headed for third, and when the Tiverton pitcher threw over to catch him, the toss resulted in an error, allowing Ekroth to trot home to extend PAL’s lead to 3-0. Then, Thomas Mullane hit a single to center, driving in Kiernan and putting PAL up 4-0.
Martino dominated the second inning as well, getting Nolan to ground out before striking out Damien Degala and Trent Rogers.
With one out in the bottom of the inning, Martino fanned, but reached base after a passed ball. Martin brought in Cam Armenti to pinch run for the pitcher, and the speedster would eventually score from third after a passed ball, extending PAL’s lead to 5-0.
PAL’s Ryan Carlson led off the bottom of the third with a single, and both Ekroth and Kiernan followed with walks to load the bases. Then, Mullane drove in Carlson with a ground ball, making it 6-0.
Martino found himself in a little trouble during the top of the fourth. Tiverton hit a pair of one-out singles plus a walk, loading the bases, but the left-hander was able to work his way out of the jam by striking out Rogers and getting Paul Amaral to fly out to centerfielder Derek Lallo for the last out.
In the top of the fifth, Tiverton was able to fill the bases another time, but once again Martino was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Warwick brought in Damon Coleman in relief in the top of the sixth, and the right-hander helped PAL cruise the rest of the way, striking out four batters and shutting the door while preserving the 6-0 victory.
“Damon is probably our hardest thrower,” Martin said. “He’s been a little inconsistent this year, so we needed to see him in the playoffs throw strikes, and he did exactly what we wanted to see because the kid’s a weapon on the mound. He throws hard, he’s got a great slider, he’s tough to hit. The bats didn’t hit the ball that well, but they played solid defense and we pitched well. And that’s what we do. That’s who we are. We don’t give up a lot of runs, though. So, if you don’t get us early, you’re not going to get us.”
Warwick traveled to Tiverton on Tuesday and pulled out a 10-6 victory in Game 2 to sweep the series. Warwick will face 365 Sports from Bristol in the quarterfinal round starting Friday at 5:30 pm at Mickey Stevens.