Titans hold off Falcons

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The Toll Gate Titans held on to beat the Cranston West Falcons, 5-4, on Thursday afternoon at Cranston West High School. Titans’ senior Nick Kazandjian and junior Dylan Palmiotti had two hits each and both added an RBI. For West, junior Brad Theis and senior Michael Doire led the way with a single and two RBIs each.

 Toll Gate junior Ryan Carlson earned the win, pitching six innings while striking out three and giving up five hits with two earned runs.

West senior Steven Rocchio took the loss, giving up five hits and three runs over five innings while striking out five.

“He’s a gamer,” West head coach Rob Malo said of Rocchio. “He battles when he’s on the mound. He’s a competitor, and that’s all you can ask for in a starting pitcher. Go out and put your team in a position to win and he definitely did that today. We just didn’t help him out.”

Doire started the game with a diving catch in left field to prevent a hit from the Toll Gate leadoff hitter, William Waggoner. Next, Rocchio earned a strikeout on Toll Gate sophomore Jake Langevin. But, with two down, Rocchio drilled Jacob Paul. Seconds later, Paul stole second before Palmiotti hit a single up the middle, putting runners at the corners. That’s when Kazandjian hit a single to shallow center to score Paul, giving Toll Gate a 1-0 edge.

With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Carlson walked Rocchio and Steven Piscopiello back to back before getting Andrew Spirito to fly out and Doire to ground into a force out at third to escape the inning unscathed. West squandered another chance with two runners on in the bottom of the second inning with one out.

West got on the board and took the lead in the bottom of the third. Piscopiello, the first batter of the inning, was hit by a pitch. Then, Rocchio used a sacrifice bunt to move Piscopiello to second. Next, Spirito hit a shot to center, however, Toll Gate was able to gun down the lead runner, Piscopiello, on his way to third. Spirito took second base on the putout. Then, Doire hit an RBI double to score Spirito and tie the game at 1. Next, Theis hit an RBI single, scoring Doire while putting the Falcons up, 2-1.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Toll Gate junior Ryan Conley reached base when the throw to first was airmailed. After Amedeo Ucci grounded out for the second out, Waggoner walked. With runners at the corners, Conley stole home while Waggoner was stuck in a pickle between first and second, tying the game at 2.

Toll Gate tacked on another run in the top of the fifth. With one out, Palmiotti earned a walk. Toll Gate would bring in senior Daniel Pratt to pinch run for Palmiotti. Next, Kazandjian launched a single up the middle. With runners at the corners, Carlson helped his own cause, hitting a single to right, scoring Pratt and giving Toll Gate a 3-2 lead. However, Toll Gate would strand runners at first and second to end the top of the inning.

In the top of the sixth inning, Cam Harris came in to pitch for West. Toll Gate would get itself some insurance. With two down, Langevin reached base after the first baseman bobbled the putout attempt. Langevin stole second base shortly after. Then, Paul hit an RBI double to score Langevin, increasing the Titans’ lead to 4-2. After that, Palmiotti hit a bomb to right center for an RBI double that scored Paul, putting Toll Gate up, 5-2. That run would prove to be the game-winner.

Carlson was at 94 pitches heading into the seventh inning and Toll Gate head coach Nick Durand decided to start fresh with his reliever, Jake Brodeur. The max for a starting pitcher is 110 pitches in a game.

“I debated on to pull him halfway through the inning and bring another guy in, but I decided if he couldn’t get the first couple outs, then it’d be easier for the guy to come in and start the inning,” Durand said.

Brodeur walked the first batter, Piscopiello, before getting Rocchio to hit into a force out at second. Next, Brodeur drilled Spirito to put two runners on. Then, the pitcher walked Doire to load the bases. Rocchio scored from third when Theis hit into a force out at third, pulling West closer at 5-3. After that, Brodeur reloaded the bases when he walked the next hitter. That’s when Durand brought in Waggoner to get the final out. Waggoner was throwing heat and got Thomas Barbieri to swing and miss twice before the reliever’s third pitch sailed by the catcher, enabling Doire to score from third, making it 5-4. With runners at second and third, Waggoner got Barbieri to line out to the third baseman, Palmiotti, to end the game.

“I was proud,” Durand said of his relievers’ performances. “Both of those guys are sophomores. This is the epitome of a team win today because we had some guys who needed to step up and step in and get the job done and they did that. “

On Saturday, Toll Gate beat Coventry, 7-4, to improve to 9-7 in league play, and West beat Pilgrim, 2-1, to lift its record to 8-8.

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