PAWTUCKET â€” In what now will be an absolute annual clash between the city's two public high schools, Tolman and Shea delivered a strange, sloppy affair inside the Pawtucket Red Sox' long-standing home on Tuesday afternoon.
All told, the two squads combined for 11 errors (with three batters reaching on strikeouts gone bad), six wild pitches, two passed balls and three hit batsmen.
The contest also saw the Tigers jump out to a 6-1 cushion, then watch aimlessly as the Raiders tied it at 6-6 with a quartet in the top of the fourth.
Yet after all that, Tolman provided too much offensive spark, eventually sealing an entertaining and long 9-7 victory before approximately 100 fans inside McCoy Stadium.
Immediately after it ended, athletic directors and friends John Scanlon (Tolman) and Ray McGee (Shea) presented the first-ever McGee-Scanlon Trophy to skipper Theo Murray and his bunch at home plate. Scanlon had indicated previously he would retire after this spring season following decades of work as an educator, coach and A.D.
McGee still hasn't announced his plans, though the award is well-named, as the tandem has supplied the city's public school district with over 80 combined years of service.
â€ś(The trophy is) significant because (Shea mentor) Dino (Campopiano) and I really cherish the rivalry between the two schools,â€ť Murray stated afterward. â€śWe both play our Thanksgiving (Eve) game here, he as the head football coach and me as an assistant, and as baseball coaches.
â€śTo commemorate what these two individuals (McGee and Scanlon) have meant to the city of Pawtucket all around, it's an honor,â€ť he added. â€śIt's fantastic that the trophy is named after such tremendous coaches and A.D.s.â€ť
Noted Campopiano, who hugged both during the post-game ceremony: â€śI'm very proud of Mr. McGee and Mr. Scanlon; they are Pawtucket high school sports, without a doubt. The things they've done for the teams, players and coaches of this city have been incredible.â€ť
As for the tilt itself, the Tigers overcame their six miscues with 11 hits in all. Junior Alex Lopez led the way, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, three RBI and a run scored, while classmate and eventual winning hurler Steve Otis helped himself with a 2-for-4, two-run outing.
Other offensive mainstays included sophomore catcher Ricky Bourdeau (2-for-3, three stolen bases, RBI, two runs); junior Nate Gagnon (2-for-4, RBI); and senior Corey Hughes (1-for-4, RBI, two runs).
It was Otis who replaced righty Vicente Noriega in the fourth, and he tossed 3 2/3 frames, yielding five hits, three runs and a walk while whiffing a pair.
SHS senior starter Jarrod Pacheco took the loss after surrendering 10 hits and eight runs (three earned) while striking out one in a 3 2/3-inning stint. Still, junior teammate Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with two RBI and a run, and senior Bladimir Helena closed at 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run.
With the triumph, the Tigers improved to 7-6, while the Raiders dropped to 3-10.
The visitors nevertheless grabbed a 1-0 cushion in the top of the first, but they could've notched so many more. Noreiga retired the first two batters, but sophomore David Mejia reached on an infield throwing error. He then robbed second, moved to third on Rodriguez' base hit to center and scored when Helena whacked a line drive to virtually the same spot.
Senior Matt Cohen punched a ground hit up the middle to load the bags, but he was thrown out at second on Pacheco's fielder's-choice grounder.
Murray's crew responded with five in the bottom half, with Otis initiating the flurry with a bloop double down the right-field line, just out of the grasp of Dom Fernandes in foul territory. He scored after senior Adam Ghazal took second on an errant throw to first, and Bourdeau plated him with a single down the right-field stripe.
Gagnon flew to center for the first out, but Hughes beat out an infield error, and he and Bourdeau moved up on a wild offering. Lopez immediately clubbed a double to the left-center gap to score that pair, and he hustled around when Noriega reached on first baseman Exander Rodriguez' bobble.
The Tigers managed another in the second to make it a comfortable 6-1 cushion; Otis poked a hit to left and raced to third on another defensive mistake before scoring on a passed ball.
Shea knifed into that deficit with a run in the top of the third.
Rodriguez reached on an error to lead the frame, and Mejia bounded a grounder to third baseman Ghazal, who tried to initiate the twin killing. But second baseman Hughes threw his relay wildly to first, allowing Mejia to scamper to second.
He sprinted to third on a wild pitch, then was plated on Helena's sacrifice fly.
Tolman stranded two in scoring position in the third, and that opened the door to its archrival. The top of the fourth didn't begin well for the Raiders, as Pacheco fanned looking. Noriega also struck out sophomore Dom Fernandes, but the pitch bounced past Bourdeau, and the former beat the throw to first.
Fernandes took second on a passed ball, and Moore walked before senior Patrick Cervoni's infield hit. With the bags juiced, Rodriguez ripped a two-run single to center; Cervoni robbed third, and quickly turned for home when Bourdeau's toss caromed into foul territory. Junior Jay Daigle's soft hit down the right-field line plated Rodriguez from second, and Shea found itself tied at 6-6.
It nevertheless didn't take long for the Tigers to respond. With one down, Bourdeau singled, then stole second and third. Gagnon then flew out to center, but Hughes crushed a two-bagger to the left-center gap to bring in Bourdeau, and Lopez whacked his second double of the tilt to plate Hughes.
That caused Campopiano to replace Pacheco with Mejia, another righthander, though he pulled his team out of it without further damage.
â€śWe were able to bounce back; those two runs were huge,â€ť Murray offered. â€śI don't know why it was so sloppy, but it was on both sides. I think we made 11 errors, if you include passed balls, wild pitches â€¦ But we still were able to fight through our mistakes.â€ť
Tolman tacked on a run in the sixth, and it was eerily similar to Shea's fourth-inning start.
Leadoff batter Ghazal fanned, but raced to first when Cohen didn't cleanly stop the low delivery. Bourdeau sacrifice-bunted him to second, and Ghazal moved to third on a wild pitch before Gagnon's hit to right scored him to make it a 9-6 cushion.
Shea made it interesting in the top of the seventh after pinch-hitter Greg Castro drew a walk from Otis, but he was thrown out at second on Helena's fielder's choice.
Cohen moved Helena to second on a single to left, then hustled in on Pacheco's hit to about the same spot. Fernandes proved to be the go-ahead at the plate, but Otis struck him out to end the thriller.
â€śI'm proud of the kids; they came back and made it a nice game on a special day for our athletic directors,â€ť Campopiano said. â€śTolman deserves a lot of credit. They didn't fold. They battled back with a couple of runs after we had tied it.
â€śOverall, you've got to tip your cap to Tolman; it was a better team on this day,â€ť he added. â€śThey made a couple of errors to help us out in that fourth inning, but they hit the ball well. That's all you can say. The good news is we could've folded our tents up and gone home, but the kids fought their way back into it. Like I said, I'm very proud of them.â€ť
Mentioned Murray: â€śI thought Steve Otis did a great job in relief. He forced a lot of ground balls, his his spots and was really efficient.â€ť