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CUMBERLAND â Itâs almost eerie how well Cumberland High struck the ball on Tuesday afternoon.
âWe hit it pretty well in our second game against Moses Brown, and in the Injury Fund (tilt) against Woonsocket, but Iâve never seen anything like this,â explained senior righty Justin Patrick after the Clippers clubbed 17 hits â including nine for extra bases â in a 14-0 thrashing of still-winless Smithfield High at Tucker Field.
âI think a lot of it was contagious,â he added. âWeâd be sitting in the dugout and see guy after guy pounding it, so weâd want to go up there and pound it, too. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, so thatâs really good to see.â
Stated skipper Paul Murphy: âIâve been here nine years, and I probably havenât seen it like this, at least in terms of the extra-base hits. I just hope this continues.â
Murphy noted that his squad had been playing extremely well during the first half of the 2011 campaign, though the Clippers dropped their last seven contests to fall out of playoff contention.
âItâs too early to tell how weâll do this season, as itâs still early,â he said. âI never thought Iâd see that happen to us because we had beaten both North Kingstown and Cranston West, the two teams that made it to the Division I state championship final, and West won it.
âIt was crazy,â he continued. âIt wasnât like we were error-prone, and it wasnât the pitching. We just couldnât hit the ball. We were in every game; we never got blown out. It was weird â we had eight guys go into a slump those final seven games.
âI just want the guys to go to the plate with confidence, and attempt to have a good, smart at-bat in every inning, every game.â
On the hill, Patrick â in a word â was superb. The tall, lanky righty, who about six weeks ago signed a letter-of-intent to attend the University of South Florida on a baseball scholarship â allowed only two hits (without a walk) and fanned 12 in five innings.
(The game ended after the top of the fifth, as the umpiring tandem enacted the Rhode Island Interscholastic Leagueâs 10-run âmercy ruleâ).
Junior Pete Travers led the charge, going 3-for-3 with a home run, double, two RBI and three runs scored. Senior Ryan Harris went 3-for-3 with two triples, two RBI and a pair of runs; junior Dylan Boisclair 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and a run; senior Christian Spader 2-for-3 with an RBI and run; and junior Greg Joubert 1-for-4 with a dinger, two RBI and a run.
Even sophomore Joe Fine, batting in the ninth hole, delivered a 2-for-3 performance with a double, an RBI and two runs.
Harris actually reached on an infield single off of eventual losing pitcher and senior righthander Jeff Langellier in the bottom of the first â that after Patrick whiffed the side â then took second on a wild pitch, but his lineup stranded him there.
The Clippers hardly failed in the âLOBâ category again.
In the back half of the second, they sent 11 to the plate, with the eight-run flurry starting when Patrick reached on a bad-hop single up the middle. He moved to second on an infield throwing error and third on Boisclairâs groundout to second before Traversâ line-drive hit up the middle plated him.
After registering the second out, Langellier yielded Fine a double to the right-center gap to score Travers, and Harrisâ triple to the same spot drove in Fine. Thatâs when Joubert laced a two-run blast over the 355-foot sign in left-center to give the Clippers a 5-0 lead.
Spader and senior Matt Billington both singled, and Langellier hit Patrick to load the bags before Boisclair rapped a clearing double to left, though he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
The rally continued in the third, Travers belting a 1-0 delivery from reliever Rob Coroia approximately 325 feet and just inside the left-field foul pole. With one down, Fine reached on an infield hit, took second on an infield throwing miscue and third on a wild pitch before scoring on Harrisâ second triple of the tilt.
Joubert fanned, but Spader whacked a triple of his own to right-center and later scored on Billingtonâs double to left.
Cumberland added two more in the fourth on junior Matt Bareâs RBI single, and after Joubert reached on another infield throwing error.
Smithfieldâs lone hits belonged to Kane and Ryan Malloy. All told, Patrick allowed only two other batted balls, catcher Bob Maceraâs fly to center to end the second and Kaneâs groundout to first (Patrick covering).
When asked what he thought of Patrickâs outing, Sentinelsâ head coach Steve Quattrini stated with a smile, âI love the way he pitches. The kid can throw, no doubt. Heâs got a nice fastball, and his off-speed stuff is better than his fastball. When you can spot those pitches like he did, the result is going to be exactly what it was. I tip my hat to him.
âJeff (Langellier) is just coming off a groin injury he suffered,â he added. âHeâs an All-Division (II) hockey player, and he hasnât thrown much this spring. I thought he had pretty good control.â
Stated Patrick: âI felt pretty good, After our first game (a 4-2 loss to senior-filled North Providence), I felt like I had better command of my curveball and changeup.
âAs for what happened last year (to our playoff hopes), I think we learned from it, but weâre definitely not swelling on it,â he added. âWeâre just taking it one game at a time âŠ I will say it felt good to get my first win, but what matters more is I think weâre in pretty good shape after this one. We just have to keep working hard.â