WARWICK – Tolman High skipper Theo Murray doesn’t like losing, but – really – who among us does?

He initially didn’t want to talk about the Tigers’ dismal 9-0 loss to Division II-Central host Warwick Vets on Wednesday afternoon, despite the fact his club trailed by a scant 2-0 deficit entering the bottom of the fifth inning.

In that frame, Tolman surrendered seven runs to turn what was at first a rather interesting pitchers’ duel into a blowout.

When it was over, however, Murray did take a moment to praise the two-hit outing of the Hurricanes’ junior righty Dave DeFusco, who in his five-inning stint yielded two walks and whiffed seven to gain the win.

“He was fantastic,” Murray admitted while preparing his troops for the long bus ride home.

“He kept us off-balance. When you face a team like that, and you’re up against a kid dealing the way he was, you have to scratch across a couple of runs at least, and we didn’t do that.”

With the defeat, the Tigers closed their II-Central campaign at 11-7.

“I’m pretty frustrated,” he said, shaking his head.

To be honest, senior southpaw Ryan Depatie must have been, too. He lasted 4 1/3 frames, allowing eight hits, six runs (one earned) and a pair of walks while fanning three. Three errors didn’t help matters.

The Hurricanes, on the other hand, improved to 12-5 in league action.

They did so not only on the strength of DeFusco’s arm but also its offense. Sophomore catcher/clean-up hitter Kyle Denis finished 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored; senior Chris Reid 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and two runs; classmate Cam Skuce 2-for-4 with a stolen bag, RBI and run; DeFusco 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and robbed bases; junior Dan Pratt 1-for-4 with an RBI and run; and senior Dave Simmons 1-for-2 with a double, walk, RBI and run.

“We needed this one,” noted Warwick head coach Nolan Landy. “We play Mount Pleasant here (today) in our league finale, but what really affected us was a 5-4 loss to Scituate on Monday. Simmons had a no-hitter through seven, but we had two errors and three walks ad eventually lost in the (back half of the seventh, 5-4.

“Lately, Denis and Reid have been our run producers,” he added. “We scored 14 against Classical and 11 more against West Warwick over the past week, and those guys have been pretty consistent at the plate. They continued to produce here in this one.”

Tolman nevertheless seemed destined to take an early lead in the top of the first, as senior Ricky Bourdeau ripped a one-out single to center and sophomore Kyle Depatie drew a pass. With two down, sophomore Adam Tremblay also walked to fill the bags, but junior Aaron Massey grounded into a fielder’s choice out to bring the potential rally to a halt.

Warwick needed little time to take a 2-0 advantage, and DeFusco started it, reaching on a pop-up hit just beyond the mound. (It was one junior third-baseman Brett Gaudreau tried to snag but couldn’t). He then stole second, and Reid stroked a single to center, though Kyle Depatie overthrew the plate as DeFusco raced home.

With Reid at third as a result of the miscue, Denis plated him with a soft hit to left before Ryan Depatie escaped.

The hosts threatened in the third when Denis crushed a two-out double down the line in left, though nothing came of it; and again in the fourth after senior Nick Beaufort blooped a one-out single to left.

Once more, Depatie held serve.

In the interim, DeFusco retired 12 of 13 Tigers between the second and fifth, yielding only a two-out hit to sophomore Ethan Bernardo in the second. Of those dozen, he struck out five.

As for the fateful fifth frame, DeFusco opened it harmlessly enough with an infield hit, then stole second and third. Reid drew a “freebie,” and Pratt lofted a bloop hit to center to score DeFusco, but the soft liner rolled under Kyle Depatie’s glove, allowing Reid to scamper to third.

Pratt followed with a theft of second, and that’s when the wheels really cane off the Tigers’ wagon. Denis poked another single to left, and Reid sprinted home with ease. When Pratt rounded third in an attempt to score, he got caught in a pickle, and shortstop Peter Microulis corralled the hopper and threw low to Bourdeau at the plate.

All told, Warwick sent 12 to the plate.

To their credit, Bernardo earned two putouts and three assists at second, the latter coming on groundballs up the middle, while junior Aaron Massey made a minimum of five stellar scoops at first for the Tigers.

“The first inning didn’t really surprise me,” Vets mentor Landy said. “DeFusco usually struggles at the beginning, but he settled down and started to get ahead of the Tolman hitters. Like I said, we needed this.”

Tolman 000 000 0 – 0 – 2 – 3

Warwick Vets 200 070 x – 9 – 12 – 1

Ryan Depatie, Justin Klemanchuck (5) and Ricky Bourdeau. Dave DeFusco, Jake Brodeur (6) and Kyle Denis. 2B – Denis, Dave Simmons.

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