PAWTUCKET – Recent Cumberland High graduate Trey Thibeault may have gotten jipped out of his final spring baseball season with his beloved Clippers, but he more than made up it after taking the hill for Howard-Rogers in a R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League Senior Division opener at Max Read Field on Monday night.

He admitted a few weeks ago that he was just as upset at the cancellation of the state American Legion campaign as the one he hoped to star in for CHS. When Legion mentors statewide chose to assemble an alternative for those who usually participated in that realm, that the Elite League, he – in a word – “flipped.”

Thibeault whirled a spectacular three-hit shutout against a gritty Smithfield/North Providence bunch, catapulting Ho-Ro to a 1-0 victory. The star righty yielded only one pass while fanning a whopping nine, which drew plenty of praise from skipper Jim LaRose and assistant Cory Morel.

“The kid Thibeault tossed a gem; he mostly stuck with his fastball, and he was always ahead in the count,” LaRose stated. “He pitched almost flawlessly, but I have to say that behind the plate, Jeff LaRose (a recent Tolman grad who suffered a similar fate this spring), was outstanding. He called the whole game and did a terrific job.

“Under normal circumstances, we’ll interact with him, call some pitches, but we didn’t have to (Monday night),” he added. “I just sat back and let them do their thing. He was terrific.”

Offered Morel: “He surprised me, considering this was the first time he’s played any competitive baseball since last summer. He painted the corners and got a lot of soft contact. There was a lot of contact on both sides, but it went right to the position players.

“I also have to say that he pitched very well, but it was difficult for both teams, considering the home plate ump was standing behind the mound.”

Smithfield/North Providence starter Jake McDonough threw rather well himself, allowing only five hits, but he yielded two in the back half of the fourth to account for the final outcome. Thibeault’s CHS teammate, Atticus Cardosa punched a base hit, then robbed second before taking third on a balk.

That’s when Jeff LaRose hammered a single up the middle to plate him.

A Smithfield/NP batter actually led off the top of the seventh with a double, and a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, but Thibeault managed a strikeout and a harmless groundout to short to end the possible flurry.

“It was a great way to start, no question about it,” the manager LaRose said. “That’s one of those kinds of games we would have dropped last year. The difference this year? We have more experience and talent. After all, we were only starting last season.”

Smithfield/North Providence 000 000 0 – 0 – 3 – 1

Howard-Rogers/Pawtucket 000 100 x – 1 – 5 – 1

Trey Thibeault and Jeff LaRose.

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