CENTRAL FALLS – After dropping two straight, Shea High skipper Dino Campopiano has been trying to hammer home the honest truth: If his kids wanted to see any semblance of post-season action, they had to start winning – and fast.
Thanks to senior righthander Bryan Quinlan, the Raiders took their first step toward that ultimate goal Wednesday afternoon.
Quinlan – more affectionately known as “Q” to his teammates and coaches – fired a stellar four-hitter (without a walk), yielded one unearned run and fanned seven as Shea manufactured a workmanlike 3-1 victory over friendly Division II-North rival Central Falls at Macomber Stadium.
“Q” also helped himself at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI; with that superb overall outing, Shea improved to 4-9 overall, but – more importantly – 4-6 in league action.
“I'm not surprised; he's been pitching great all year,” Campopiano noted after the verdict, one that upped Quinlan's mound mark to 3-1. “Obviously, he was awesome (Wednesday). We played pretty good defense behind him, and we just got some timely hits when we needed to. It resulted in a win we sorely needed.
“He pitched a whale of a ballgame,” he added.
To be honest, junior southpaw Elvin Morales did almost as well. He too hurled a four-hitter, allowing only two earned runs and five walks with four whiffs, though the Warriors remained winless at 0-10 in II-North.
“That was one of the better games he's pitched,” Central Falls head coach Bill Volpe said of Morales. “He had really good velocity and location, and he threw great. We just didn't get the key hits when we needed them.
“The thing is, we're playing better; we had a 6-1 lead over Scituate (at the top of the II-North standings) but lost, 8-7, (on Monday),” he continued. “We've improved, no question. We're pitching well and playing pretty good defense, but it comes down to clutch hitting. You need to find a way to get guys in, and the kids didn't.”
Morales got two immediate outs in the top of the first, but then he walked freshman David Mejia. Quinlan then drove a high fly down the right-field line, one Heriberto Rodriguez couldn't catch up to in the swirling winds, and his eventual opposite-field double plated his teammate from first.
In the back half of that opening frame, it looked as if the Warriors would take advantage of the gusty conditions when seniors Brandon Canuto and Jose Alamo whacked high flies into center, but junior Kevin Moore settled under each.
Shea mustered what proved to be the game-clincher in the third when – with one down – Cervoni drilled a double to left, took third on Moore's bloop hit to center and scored on Mejia's sacrifice fly to right.
On the play, however, Morales intercepted the throw to the plate and fired to third to get Moore.
Canuto had whiffed to start the bottom of the fourth, though junior Emmanuel Antigua ripped a single to center. When Quinlan tried to pick off Antigua, first baseman Seth Larbi threw low to second and the toss ended up in shallow left-center, allowing Antigua to race to third.
Alamo's lined, opposite-field hit to left plated Antigua to tighten the C.F. gap to 2-1. Alamo then robbed second, but Quinlan got out of the jam, forcing junior Jorge Vazquez to pop out before fanning Emerson Antigua.
After Morales posted a fine 1-2-3 fifth frame, it seemed the Warriors would assemble another surge. With one out, sophomore Chris Huertas ripped a hit to center, but was thrown out at second by catcher Nate Pina.
The Raiders collected their insurance run in the sixth after Mejia drew a one-out walk. Quinlan lofted a high fly to center, one that clipped off Emerson Antigua's glove, and Mejia galloped to third. With runners in scoring position, Campopiano signaled to Pina to lay down a suicide-squeeze bunt, but Morales airmailed his delivery, and Mejia scored with ease on the wild pitch.
Quinlan also tried to steal home, but was caught in a pickle, and backstop Alamo applied the tag halfway down the third-base line.
In the latter half of the sixth, Emmanuel Antigua rapped a two-out hit to left, giving C.F. some life; when third-base coach Mike Goodson signaled for him to rob second, however, he overran the bag, and shortstop Mejia quickly applied the tag.
Quinlan retired the Warriors in order in the seventh, one by strikeout.
“Our pitching was there, and our defense was OK; I mean, we only made one error,” Volpe stated afterward. “We did run ourselves out of a couple of possible rallies, and that didn't help.”
Offered Campopiano: “'Q' hit a bomb in the first, and Cervoni's double in the third, with Mejia's big sacrifice fly, that helped us. They had to put the bat on the ball, and they did that.
“We're just coming into every game now with the mindset that we have to win, especially if we want to make the playoffs,” he added. “I've told them that if they want to play more baseball, every game is big. I thought their pitcher did an outstanding job, and he threw well enough to win, but we got some timely hits.
“At this point, we'll take them.”
Next on Shea's list: It will bus to Burrillville on Monday for a 3:45 p.m. tilt at Eccleston Field. With a triumph, the Raiders will close in on the .500 mark.