PAWTUCKET – Theo Murray wasn’t completely sure what he was going to get out of Chris Messier, his starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game against Shea. The reason for concern on the part of the Tolman head coach seems justified, especially since Messier was forced to leave his last start with arm soreness.
It was all systems go for Messier as the senior ace struck out six in 5 2/3 innings in Tolman’s 12-7 triumph against its crosstown rivals at Max Read Field. Messier reached his peak in innings 3-5, retiring the Raiders in order in each frame. Playing the role of stopper was something that Murray greatly appreciated since Tolman was protecting a 5-4 lead after two frames.
“He did his job,” said Murray about Messier matter-of-factly. “He did get to 91 pitches, but that was going to be a concern anyways. I was going to make a move in the second inning, but he was able to bounce back and fight through it. He was tough for us.”
The Raiders had their chances against Messier in the middle innings but had to wait until the sixth before mounting another serious threat, when Murray brought in Andrew Larson to finish things out.
“I thought (Messier) pitched well,” said Dino Campopiano, Shea’s coach. “I would have to go back and look at the book, but he didn’t have too many walks.”
Both sides came out swinging with Tolman vaulting out to a 4-0 lead before Shea came up to bat. The Raiders mounted a two-out rally in the first, as Eric Geisman doubled and catcher Kevin Allenson chased him in with a single. Geisman finished with three hits and two runs.
Things eventually settled down on the mound courtesy of Messier and Geisman, who came on in relief of Shea starter Zach Ribeiro in the first inning. The Tigers took a 6-4 lead into the fifth inning, one that saw Murray’s club strike for four runs. brandon Gagne came through with the big hit, a bases-clearing triple that was part of a three-hit, four-run day for the Tolman junior.
Shea answered in the sixth, as a two-run single by Geisman resulted in curtains for Messier. In came Larson, who surrendered a RBI double to Allenson that made it 10-7 Tolman. The Raiders loaded the bases with two down, but Larson got a groundball to second base to get out of dodge.
The seventh inning yielded two insurance runs for Tolman with Larson lofting a sacrifice fly and Carlos Sanabria (two hits) delivering a run-scoring single. Larson allowed a two-out single in the last of the seventh, but nothing else came about for Shea.
“(The Raiders) made their push late,” said Murray, “but we were able to hold them. We know we need to score a lot of runs and we did that (yesterday).”
Campopiano tipped his cap to Tolman, yet he also counted several mental errors that proved to hinder his squad’s chances.
“We made some mistakes on first-and-third [baserunning] situations. We hit the ball, but we allowed them to get some extra bases that the outfielders didn’t cut off. Those little things hurt us,” said Campopiano. “Tolman executed on a squeeze … they did the little things to win the ballgame.”
The Tigers, now 3-2 in Division II-East, will visit Hope on Wednesday to continue what is busy week. Tolman welcomes Mt. Pleasant to Slater Park on Friday before playing North Smithfield in a non-leaguer Saturday morning inside McCoy Stadium. Shea (2-2) will bus to Seekonk to take on The Wheeler School on Wednesday before visiting Juanita Sanchez on Friday.