PAWTUCKET – Navigant Credit Union Post 85 found a way to cool off red-hot Collette Vacations Post 79.
The Woonsocket-based club seems to have caught a little fire, too.
Navigant went to work early against its Pawtucket foe on Wednesday night, scoring three runs in the top of the first. The bats kept going from there as Post 85 left Max Read Field with an 8-1 victory over Collette in Senior American Legion action.
Navigant halted an impressive six-game win streak by Collette, the second place squad in the North Division. During that stretch, Collette defeated division-leader Cumberland Post 14 and South division-leader New England Frozen Lemonade/Shields Post 43.
In its previous six games, Collette (7-3-1) scored 20 runs and allowed only four.
“It just caught up with us,” Post 79 coach Ray Ventura said. “When you are dealing with wood bats, anything can happen.”
After starting its league season a dismal 1-7, Navigant (3-8) has now won six of its last seven games, including capturing the South County Classic this weekend with a four-game sweep of its opponents.
“We had a long talk with them the last couple of games and it looked like it turned around, hopefully,” NCU coach Jim Gauthier said. “A lot of it [at the beginning] was confidence. You could see it in their eyes. Now they are hitting the ball.”
Coming off a split in its doubleheader with Upper Deck Post 86 on Tuesday where it won the nightcap by a score of 9-2, Navigant responded with another strong outing at the plate, belting out 12 hits, three of which were for extra bases.
Brandon Perrico was his usual steady self on the mound, tossing a six-hitter with five strikeouts. The left-handed Perrico, who recently graduated from Woonsocket High where he starred for the Villa Novan nine, improved to 3-0 for the summer.
“He has been untouchable all three games that he has pitched,” Gauthier said. “He mixed it up nice, kept them off balance…He’s the backbone of the pitching staff.”
As it turned out, Navigant scored all the offense it would need in the first 10 minutes of the contest. With two outs and a runner on first, NCU strung together three straight hits off Collette starter Max Perry. Dan Rivera singled, Perrico followed with an RBI single and then Wigberto “Bam-Bam” Rodrigues bashed a two-run triple to deep centerfield.
“We had a little talk with them before the game,” Gauthier said. “We never thought that they’d come out like that. You could see the confidence was there and they definitely wanted to play tonight.”
Perry appeared to gain his control in the second inning when he struck out the side on just 11 pitches. Perrico responded with a 1-2-3 frame of his own where he tossed the ball just five times.
Perry’s sudden resurgence was short lived as Navigant opened up the floodgates in the fourth with five runs, four of which were tagged to the ex-Shea High standout and the other to reliever Tyler Drainville. Kory Lawrence had a two-run double and teammates Louis Chala (single), Tyler Geffert (triple) and Kevin Okruta (single) also would have run-scoring hits.
Down by a score of 8-0, the best opportunity to do some damage by Collette occurred in the fourth inning where it loaded the bases with no outs. But Perrico got out of the inning nearly unscathed, allowing just one run and finishing with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. Nate Patch began the inning with a single. Perry reached base on an error and the bags filled up when C.J. Lapierre singled. The lone run was scored with one out when Nick Gagnon’s infield hit was fielded by Geffert. The third baseman threw home for the force out, but a sliding Patch managed to beat the throw.
“That was a horrible inning,” Ventura admitted. “With wood bats you got to get every inning you can get. When you get behind this game three, four or five runs, you are in trouble. It’s tough to come back with wood bats. The kids just don’t know how to hit it.”
Navigant hopes to continue its recent power surge on Friday night when it battles Providence Post 56. Collette will take a short break from league action by participating in its annual Firecracker Classic, a 30-team, five-day tournament that stretches from Thursday to Monday at Max Read Field.
Navigant Credit Union 300 500 0 – 8-12-1
Collette Vacations 000 100 0 – 1-6-0
Brandon Perrico and Kevin Okruta. Max Perry, Tyler Drainville (4) and Nate Patch. 2B – NCU, Kory Lawrence. 3B – NCU, Tyler Geffert, Wigberto Rodrigues