PAWTUCKET – A doubleheader split was the best St. Raphael and Woonsocket could hope for when the two squads faced each other after dropping their respective 11 a.m. contests on Monday morning.
With the scheduled 2:30 p.m. night cap at Vets Park carrying limited playoff ramifications, both teams hoped to finish their busy day on the diamond with a .500 record. That honor went to St. Raphael by virtue of a 6-5 triumph over Woonsocket.
The Saints conclude the regular season with an 8-10 mark in Division I-North while the Villa Novans stand at 5-13. SRA will be the sixth seed from the North when the curtain goes up on the state playoffs this Saturday. The Novans are also postseason qualifiers despite losing eight straight league games to finish at 5-13. Despite the recent slide, head coach John Marsella’s contingent was able to obtain the eighth and final North Division playoff spot.
“A new season starts,” smiled Marsella. “If we play up to our potential, we can compete.”
Marsella’s optimism stems from a close inspection of his Novans and how they’ve arrived at this point. Counting Monday’s doubleheader – the day began with a 8-6 loss to defending state champs Bishop Hendricken at Barry Field – Woonsocket has dropped three games decided by one run, and lost two more decided by two runs, in just the past nine days.
Woonsocket’s defense has been the culprit in many of these close defeats. Against Hendricken, three errors directly resulted in three runs. Troubles with the glove extended to the St. Raphael contest – in the fourth inning with the game tied at 4, a Woonsocket throwing error led to two runs for the Saints, which later proved decisive.
Taking advantage of Woonsocket’s misfortunes was SRA’s specialty on Monday. The home team made the Novans pay for a first-inning error as Ben Roy doubled in a run with Nick Sisto later adding a run-scoring safety.
The Novans’ difficulties with fundamentals extended to the base paths as well, with one runner erased at first base courtesy of a Zach Mittsmenn pickoff for the first out in the fifth.
An inning later saw yet another potential game-tying bid by Woonsocket go up in smoke. After walking and stealing second, junior John Flynn was caught straying a little too far away from the bag. Stepping calmly off the mound, Mittsmenn started a 1-4-5 sequence that removed Flynn from the bases.
The Villa Novans did threaten in the seventh as Flynn reached on a walk with one down. After another out, Josh Mousseau singled, moving Flynn to second. But on his 110th and final pitch of the day, Mittsmenn induced a grounder to shortstop that allowed everyone on SRA’s bench to exhale.
The Saints trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third after the Villa Novans sprung for a three-spot in the top of the frame. Flynn produced one run with a single with Elijah Brackett responsible for another run after getting hit by a Mittsmenn offering with the bases loaded.
Woonsocket’s lead would not last long. Back-to-back singles by the Saints brought up Dylan Boisclair, who lofted a deep drive to left-center. Boisclair cruised into third base with a two-run triple.
Mittsmenn gave the Saints everything he had on the mound on his way to tossing a complete game that featured eight strikeouts, six walks and one hit batter. His counterpart, Woonsocket’s Miguel Raymond, worked six innings before turning over the pitching duties to Brandon Rainville in the seventh.
Speaking of Mittsmenn, he finished the day with four hits and four runs. Tom Calabro went 3-for-3 against Cranston West while Sisto had two hits and two RBI against Woonsocket.
“We’re playing pretty good defense and our pitchers are keeping us in the game,” noted SRA head coach Tom “Saar” Sorrentine. “Our big thing is that we’ve got to hit the ball. We’ve got some guys who are getting there which is good because we’re going to see good pitching in the playoffs.”
Woonsocket 013 010 0 - 5-8-2
St. Raphael 202 200 x - 6-9-2
Miguel Raymond, Brandon Rainville (7) and Kyle Beaulieu. Zach Mittsmenn and Ty Seaton.
Cranston West 000 250 3 – 10-10-0
St. Raphael 100 000 2 – 3-8-3
Frank Pettinato, Rob Santos (7) and Garrett Demers. Ben Duarte, Chris Karalis (5) and Ty Seaton.
Bishop Hendricken 202 022 0 – 8-6-3
Woonsocket 300 012 0 – 6-9-4
Mike McCaffrey, Dillon Manfredi (4), Matt Murphy (6) and Gian Martinelli. John Flynn, Josh Mousseau (3) and Kyle Beaulieu.