The 1st-seeded Bishop Hendricken Hawks, led by junior Kevin Gower, rallied back from three runs down in the 8th inning and shocked the 8th-seeded East Providence Townies 5-4 at home in the second round of the Division I Pod I winners’ bracket.
Gower, an outfielder, had three hits, including an RBI single that drove in the game-winning run when he belted a walk-off RBI single to deep left field in the bottom of the eighth and broke a 4-4 tie.
“It feels great,” Gower said. “Our team really rallied up there. I was happy to just be a part of it and keep going, keeping it alive. Just fighting for the team all the way through.”
There was no doubt in Gower’s mind that his team could come back from a three-run deficit.
“I was confident the whole time because we’ve been in situations like this before and we’ve always battled back and as a team, we came back and figured it out and won the game,” Gower said.
“They never gave up,” Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway added. “They fought. The key was getting the leadoff guy on and he trimmed it and got it to the top of the order and those guys are good hitters and they came through for us. And we’re happy to get the win.”
Prior to Gower’s game-winning hit, junior Tucker Flint knotted the game at 4 when he blasted a two-run double to left field.
“I knew he was in a situation where he wanted to try and gas me up with a fastball,” Flint said. “And I knew, I just had to hit a single and I knew he was going to try to go away with it and I just had to stay on it and it just went our way.”
Like Gower, there was no doubt in Flint’s mind that the Hawks could make a late comeback.
“I’ve believed in this team,” Flint said. “We have a lot of good hitters on our team and everything worked our way and when we come together we do great things.”
Gower believes that the Hawks can go all the way and win the state title.
“Definitely,” Gower said. “If we stay as a team, we can battle through every game. Play hard and we can do it.”
East Providence senior and star pitcher Ben Sears pitched 6 2/3 innings and struck out eight while junior Matt Smaldone had six strikeouts for Hendricken over fine innings.
In the fourth inning, East Providence’s Zach Fanara rocketed an RBI single to right-center field and put East Providence up 1-0.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, Gower knotted the game at 1 when he blasted an RBI triple to center.
After seven innings, the two teams were deadlocked at 1 and the game went into extra innings.
East Providence scored three runs in the top of the eighth. The first came with one out, when Alvin Martinez belted an RBI single past a diving second baseman to put East Providence up 2-1. Then, with two outs and runners at second and third, Clayton Cook blasted a bullet at the shortstop, Gower, and he bobbled it and then rushed a throw to first, which resulted in an error and that led to two East Providence runs coming home and put them up 4-1.
However, Hendricken wasn’t ready to roll over and die.
Senior Jaimen Albizu and junior David Bordieri Jr. led off the bottom of the inning with back-to-back infield hits. Senior Conor Kiely hit an RBI single to pull the Hawks within 4-2. With runners at second and third, Flint launched a laser to left for a two-run double and tied the game at 4.Later with the bases loaded, Gower smashed a walk-off RBI single, giving the Hawks a 5-4 victory.