PAWTUCKET — St. Raphael Academy followed up one of its best games of the season with arguably its worst on Thursday afternoon and paid for it.
The price the Saints paid? A demotion to the losers’ bracket of the Division I playoffs and a battle for their playoff lives today against East Greenwich High.
Fourteenth-seeded Cranston East High took advantage of six infield errors and a lack of timely hitting by the Saints and used that to bus out of Vets Park with a 6-1 triumph that puts the Thunderbolts one win away from sewing up the Region 3 portion of the tournament.
The 11th-seeded Saints, who were coming off an impressive 4-2 victory over the Avengers less than 24 hours earlier, will have to return to East Greenwich today for a 4 p.m. game against them. The winner will then have to defeat the Thunderbolts twice over the next two days to win the region.
The sixth-seeded Avengers stayed alive in the tourney on Thursday by holding on for a 7-6 win over third-seeded Lincoln in their losers’ bracket affair.
“We played our worst game of the year at the wrong time,” added SRA coach Tom “Saar” Sorrentine, whose team is 10-10. “We played great yesterday, but today, we just played awful.
“I don’t know what happened. We didn’t execute and we just didn’t show up. The winner of this game gets in the driver’s seat. This would have been huge if we won, but now we have to fight back in the losers’ bracket.”
This was actually a 1-0 game through the first six innings, but the ’Bolts, who jumped on top by scoring an unearned run in the third, erupted for five runs in the seventh inning off Saints starter Andrew Veiga, who ran out of steam after tossing six strong innings.
The Saints, meanwhile, were held to six hits by two southpaw pitchers, starter Brandan Budlong, who worked the first three innings before leaving the game with a lower leg injury, and reliever Taylor Pacific, who lost the shutout with two outs in the seventh on a long RBI triple to center by Alex Collette.
Juan Reyes knocked in the Bolts’ run in the third with a two-out single to left, and in the seventh, three errors, a RBI single to left by Josmar Ventura, and a two-run single to center by Bob Kuczek brought in the five runs.
The Saints, meanwhile, botched a suicide squeeze bunt attempt in the second and stranded runners on second and third in the next two innings.