Toll Gate baseball squeaked out a 7-6 win over the North Kingstown Skippers at Mickey Stevens on Thursday afternoon.
Titans starting pitcher Jake Randall, a junior, pitched 3 2/3 innings and struck out four, while allowing four runs.
Junior Christian Rapoza earned the win, pitching in relief, throwing two innings of shutout ball where he struck out four.
Rapoza was firing on all cylinders as he also batted in two runs on three hits with a run scored.
“Christian is going to be a big part of our success this season,” Toll Gate head coach Nick Durand said. “He can do a little bit of everything. We are excited to watch him explore his potential.”
Toll Gate took a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the first inning when with runners at second and third, Rapoza socked a shot to center and knocked in Amedeo Ucci Jr.
In the bottom of the third, Toll Gate padded its lead at 2-0 when with Randall at first, senior Jake Langevin blasted an RBI triple down the first baseline and scored the pitcher.
Then, with Langevin at third, Rapoza ripped an RBI single to right field, pushing the Toll Gate advantage to 3-0.
Next, with runners at first and second, Caden Haley, a junior, rocketed a bouncer over the glove of the third baseman, which scored Rapoza and put the Titans on top 4-0.
Finally, with the bases filled, sophomore Dylan Aunchman blasted an RBI single over the second base bag and drove in Dylan Barlow, a junior, from third, upping the Titans advantage to 5-0.
But, in the top of the fourth, the North Kingstown bats got going.
With two outs and the bases loaded, freshman TJ Gormley smashed a 3-run double to deep center and pulled the Skippers within 5-3.
Then, Toll Gate went to its bullpen and brought in Barlow in relief of Randall.
“Jake did awesome,” Durand said. “This is his first year pitching varsity baseball. So, he was able to get the outs when we needed them and then, he just got a little tired.”
Next, Barlow gave up an RBI single to Cam Lindberg and that got the Skippers within 5-4.
Then, in the top of the fifth, North Kingstown added another run and knotted the score at 5. That run came when Brendan Kearns, a senior, smacked an RBI single down the third base line, which scored senior Brett Maloney.
Next, the Skippers took a 6-5 lead when Spencer Sprague launched a sacrifice fly to left field and scored Geoffrey Coyne.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Toll Gate rallied with two runs to win the contest.
With two outs and runners at first and second, Tyler Amore socked an RBI single into center field and scored Ucci Jr., knotting the game at 6.
Then, with runners at the corners, Aunchman belted a routine fly ball to centerfield, which was dropped by the right fielder Tyler Pezza, a sophomore, and that scored senior catcher Jacob Paul from third, and the Titans walked off with the 7-6 win.
“In all my three years of being here, that was the most fun I’ve ever had on a baseball field,” Paul said. “That was a complete team effort. Nobody gave up. And we really showed how much fight we have in us. I think we have a lot of potential this year. If we keep playing like this we’re going to be a strong baseball team.”
Durand hopes the squad’s combined effort helps the team form a camaraderie like no other.
“I’m so proud,” Durand said. “The guys never gave up. We were up 5-0 and then, we gave it up 6-5, and then, two outs in the bottom of the seventh, we have three base hits and win the game. I mean, that’s a total team effort.”
Toll Gate improves its record to 2-0 and plays its next game on Tuesday at 4 pm at East Greenwich High School.