PAWTUCKET – Tolman High skipper Theo Murray had informed the media before the annual non-league clash with rival Shea on Monday afternoon that he wanted to meet a certain agenda.
Those were to win, get as many usual substitutes some action as possible and – first and foremost – pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of retired athletic directors Ray McGee at Shea and John Scanlon of Tolman.
After all, the victor of this contest is awarded the annual - and prestigious - McGee/Scanlon Trophy.
Wearing rather funky throwback uniforms, those about 30 years old, the Tigers opened slowly against the inexperienced but gritty Raiders but eventually cruised to a 12-1 mercy-rule victory over perhaps four or five dozen inside McCoy Stadium.
Junior righthander Bellamy Gutierrez earned his first varsity start and excelled, yielding only three hits, an earned run and a walk while fanning four.
Sophomore batterymate Jeff LaRose helped pace the offense, finishing 2-for-3, with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored, though junior Andrew Roy posted a career outing, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs.
Other key contributors at the plate included junior Izaiah Rivera (1-for-2, two RBIs, run); senior Noel Hernandez (1-for-1, two walks, stolen base, two runs); classmate Ethan Bernardo (2-for-2, two steals); freshman Lonnie Santiago (1-for-2, run); junior Kenny Baptista (0-for-1, RBI, run); and Gutierrez himself (0-for-2, pair of passes, run).
Even usual subs like senior Adam Tremblay (single), freshman Pablo Delacruz (walk) and fellow frosh Justin DaCosta got into the act.
“Our goal was to honor John and Ray by having the two public high schools in the city play together in the greatest ballpark in Rhode Island on a nice day and have some fun,” Murray stated firmly.
“There’s no rivalry here, not between us. The two coaching staffs are friendly, and most of the guys know each other very well from playing RBI or in other leagues together. Geez, some of them have known each other since before Little League.”
As for donning the throwbacks, Murray grinned, “We’ve been doing that for, like, the last four years. I found these (several) days ago in an old closet at Tolman, did a little research and found out they were worn by the 1988 and ’89 teams. I decided, ‘Let’s do it.’
“I know the kids got a kick out of them.”
The Tigers improved to 7-6 overall, while Shea fell to 2-11 overall.
“The game was a lot less about Shea and Tolman playing baseball than paying tribute to the two guys it represents – Ray and John,” veteran SHS mentor Dino Campopiano said. “I think we did that. Tolman is a very good baseball team, and they’re so well-coached. I wish Theo and his kids the best of luck.”
The umpiring crew may have called the tilt after the top of the fifth inning due to the Interscholastic League’s 10-run “mercy rule, but it sure didn’t start that way.
In the back half of the first inning, Hernandez singled to left off of junior starter Manny Ortiz, robbed second and took third on Bernardo’s one-out hit. The latter stole the middle bag and – with two down – Gutierrez walked to juice the bases, but LaRose flew out to center to end the threat.
As for the second, Tolman notched four, thought it could’ve had more.
Junior Justin Klemanchuck reached on an infield throwing error and stole second before junior Steve Kent drew a “freebie” from sophomore reliever Jake Faria. Both moved up on a wild pitch, and Roy plated both with ground single down the third-base line.
Roy raced to second on a passed ball and third on a second wild delivery prior to Hernandez drawing a pass and senior Kyle Depatie reaching on a dropped fly, one that plated Roy. Bernardo singled Hernandez to third, and Rivera’s sacrifice fly to center scored Hernandez with the fourth run.
As for the third, the Tigers opened it in style, LaRose smoking a double to deep left, taking third on Santiago’s rip down the same line and hustling home on Faria’s balk.
With two outs in the frame following a Kent strikeout, it appeared the hurler had a grip on things, but Roy clubbed an RBI single, and Tolman would go on to plate six more runs.
They came on a walk, error, hit-by-pitch, Rivera RBI hit, Gutierrez pass and LaRose’s bases-clearing double, his second of the frame. The latter gave the hosts the 12-0 cushion.
The Raiders, however, didn’t roll over. In the top of the fourth, they finally got to Gutierrez. He issued sophomore Brandon Ribeiro a walk, and with two outs, Ortiz ripped a single to right, sending him to third. Senior Juan Vasquez eventually pushed him across with a solid single up the middle.
Sophomore righty Connor Serra whiffed the side in the fifth, but naturally it wasn’t a save opportunity.
“We got some kids some varsity experience, those who need it, and that’s always valuable,” Murray noted. “It was a big game for Andrew Roy, and it was Bellamy’s first varsity start. He threw strikes and was effective.
“Now we have to come right back here (today) for a game against PCD in another non-leaguer,” he added. “PCD is a very strong team which plays in the Central New England Prep League.”
He also indicated that contest will offer a twist – he will be coaching against his son, junior Cameron.
“I don’t know his status yet (whether he will start for the Knights), but I’m anxious to find out.”
Shea 000 10 -- 1 3 3
Tolman 048 0x -- 12 11 0
Manny Ortiz, Jake Faria (2), Brandon Ribeiro (3) and Ribeiro, Ortiz (2). Bellamy Gutierrez. Connor Serra (4) and Jeff LaRose. 2B – LaRose 2.