PAWTUCKET --- Tolman High and Narragansett High’s pitching staffs looked every bit like they were working in their third playoff game in as many days on Friday afternoon.
Not only did both sides combine to use eight pitchers, but they also issued a whopping 27 walks, and that helped make their Division II losers’ bracket game a marathon affair that lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Luckily for the Tigers, they were the recipient of 19 free passes off six Mariner pitchers, and all those walks and some quality outings from their pitchers, Jon Argencourt and Joe Fernandes, helped add up to a 14-4 victory at Slater Park that was mercifully halted in the bottom of the sixth inning by the 10-run rule.
The sixth-seeded Tigers (14-7) will now turn their attention to today’s Region 3 winners’ bracket contest at 1 p.m. in Wakefield against the third-seeded Prout School (17-3), who 24 hours earlier, dropped the Tigers into the losers’ bracket by defeating them, 7-6, on a walkoff homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We’re in the position we wanted to be in,” remarked Tolman coach Theo Murray. “We wanted to be playing on Saturday. That was our goal. Whether it was being in there (with a) 2-0 or 2-1 (playoff record), we wanted to be in that game, and then see what happens.
“We’re playing Prout, the team we just lost to, but we got our senior ace on the bump. If we win, we live to see another day and we’ll be back here on Sunday to face them again.”
The Tigers’ senior ace, Chris Messier, will get the ball on two days’ rest and after a solid effort in Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over the Mariners in their playoff opener. Messier went six innings in that game, striking out seven batters and scattering as many hits.
“He’s fully loaded and ready to go, with no restrictions on him,” added Murray. “He only threw 80 pitches in his six innings. You’re allowed 30 outs over three consecutive days, so Chris can pitch as long as we need him to.”
But before Murray could think about playing Prout, he had to focus on defeating the 11th-seeded Mariners (12-9) for the second time in three days and getting the absolute most he could out of Argencourt and Fernandes.
“That’s the spot you’re in when you play three days in a row,” noted Murray. “Before we even played our first (playoff) game, I talked to Jon, Carlos (Sanabria), and Joey and told them, ‘You guys are going to be used.’ They didn’t get many innings this year, but when you’re in this situation in the playoffs, you have to count on those guys.”
Argencourt tossed the first 3 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and walking five batters, but when he ran into trouble in the fourth inning and gave up a two-run homer to Bill Byrne and three walks, Murray brought in Fernandes, who kept the visitors hitless and scoreless the rest of the way, striking out three and walking as many batters.
“Jon and Joey did the work today,” offered Murray. “They did what I asked them to do. I asked Jon to give me two (innings) and he gave me three, and Joey came in and took care of the rest.”
While Argencourt and Fernandes got the job done, the Mariners’ pitchers certainly didn’t, and while they limited the Tigers to seven hits, they struggled mightily with their control.
Zach Taber, the Tigers’ No. 9 batter, walked four times before enforcing the mercy-rule with a two-out RBI single to center in the sixth. Andrew Larson, who reached base in all five of his at-bats, walked in three of them, and every spot in the lineup but catcher Chris Baldwin had not one, but two free passes.
The Mariners seized a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly to center by Byrne, but the Tigers took the lead for good in their half of the inning on a RBI single by Sanabria (who finished with three RBIs) and a two-run triple to center by Baldwin.
The Tigers didn’t collect any hits over the next two innings, but they managed to extend their lead to 6-1. In the second, five free passes helped lead to a run, and in the third, an errant infield throw and a wild pitch brought in runs.
After the Mariners cut their deficit to 6-4 in the fourth, the Tigers responded with a five-run uprising in the bottom of the frame. Argencourt, who also collected two doubles and drive in two runs, belted a run-scoring double to center that was soon followed by bases-loaded walks to Larson and Sanabria.
Prout 100 300—4-3-4
Tolman 312 512—14-7-0
Jon Argencourt, Joe Fernandes (4) and Chris Baldwin; Julien Nelson, Zachary McKanna (2), Adam Gabrilowitz (4), Arthur Kershaw (4), Kullen McGill (5), Brad Loomis (6) and Brad Loomis, Julien Nelson (2). 2B – Jon Argencourt 2 (T), Patrick Stone (N), Brandon Gagne (T). 3B – Chris Baldwin (T). HR – William Byrne (N).