North Smithfield senior Dylan Narodowy was on top of his game Saturday, scattering just three hits while striking out eight. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
SMITHFIELD â€“ After not having a competitive game situation for 12 days, North Smithfield High skipper Jon Leddy worried about his team being lackluster prior to facing Division II-North host Smithfield on Saturday.
Leddy had focused on keeping the offense clicking with plenty of batting practice; still he was unsure as to his kidsâ€™ collective mind-set.
He had reason to worry through the first four frames, when his Northmen left five on the bags while holding a scant 1-0 advantage.
The bats, however, came alive in the top of the fifth, when North Smithfield organized a four-run flurry and later crushed the Sentinels, 8-1, before approximately 60 fans.
The story of the afternoon, however, didnâ€™t come from 14 total hits, but instead the golden right arm of senior captain Dylan Narodowy. During a spectacular complete-game outing, he scattered just three hits and two walks while whiffing eight as the Northmen improved to a perfect 7-0 in league action.
â€śDylan makes things look so easy,â€ť Leddy explained afterward. â€śHe just looked good. Heâ€™s always around the strike zone, and he doesnâ€™t try to strike anyone out. He pitches to contact, and he trusts his defense.
â€śI donâ€™t know how many walks he had, but he was solid out there, just like always.â€ť
Narodowy actually had a no-hitter going through four, but senior Chris Cote (2-for-3) opened the fifth with a line-drive single to right-center, though nothing came of it. He retired three straight Sentinels to squelch a possible rally.
He also surrendered to Cote a two-out double to left-center in the seventh, and Nick DiDonato plated him with a soft hit to right, though got out of the frame when sophomore No. 9 batter Shawn Kiernan took a third strike.
â€śHis location was great,â€ť Cicerone said of his batterymateâ€™s work. â€śDylan put the ball where he needed to, and he mixed up his speeds. His off-speed pitches were hitting their spots, and he kept them off-balance.
When asked if anything was shared in the dugout regarding a possible â€śno-no,â€ť Cicerone grinned, â€śI didnâ€™t say anything; I wasnâ€™t about to. That kid (Cote) just hit it from a bad spot from Dyl; it was chest-high and right over the plate, and the double came off a curve.â€ť
Mike Cicerone aided his righty at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBI, while junior Brad Shatraw went 3-for-5 with a triple and two runs scored.
Other significant contributions came from junior Nick Cicerone (1-for-4, two runs); senior Conor DiSpirito (2-for-4, RBI, run); sophomore Eric Ethier (2-for-4, pair of RBI); and senior Chris Forbes (1-for-3, two runs).
North Smithfield may have had a chance to open with a run or two in the top half of the first, when Narodowy punched a two-out hit to left, but DiSpiritoâ€™s grounder â€“ destined for right field â€“ struck Narodowy to end the inning.
Smithfieldâ€™s initial two batters, sophomore Josh Gorgone and junior Shawn Seaberg, scorched liners at shortstop Ethier and Narodowy himself in the first, but both plucked them out of the air.
The Northmen collected its first run in the second after Forbes singled to left, took second after Nick Cicerone grounded to sophomore pitcher Anthony Nappa and scored on Ethierâ€™s soft hit to right.
It seemed the Sentinels would knot it in the fourth, when Seaberg opened with a grounder to third, but junior Ian Pascoe airmailed his toss to first baseman Forbes, then took second on the miscue.
Narodowy, though, forced junior Brendan Riley to ground out to short and Kyle Robert to do the same to second before whiffing senior Zach Simoneau.
Still up 1-0, Leddyâ€™s bunch erupted for four in the fifth, and Shatraw started the flurry with a triple down the right-field line, one that two-hopped the fence 312 feet away. Nick Cicerone reached on a 6-2-5 fielderâ€™s choice to place them at the corners, though Cicerone moved to second after Narodowy fouled out to catcher Cote.
DiSpirito plated Shatraw with a bloop hit to right, and Nappa intentionally walked Forbes to juice the bases.
Sophomore Josh Labonte then flew out to left to keep the bases full, but Mike Cicerone ripped ground single down the left-field line to score his kid brother and DiSpirito. Ethierâ€™s soft hit to right pushed across Forbes from second as the Northmen, who batted through the order, gained a 5-0 cushion.
â€śIt was a first-pitch fastball right down the middle,â€ť Mike Cicerone offered of his huge hit. â€śHe had been doing that to me the previous two at-bats, so I was looking for it.â€ť
North Smithfield added a trio in the sixth, courtesy of four Smithfield errors. Shatraw again led the way, this time with a ground single down the right-field stripe. Nick Cicerone reached on Nappaâ€™s fielding error to put runners at the corners, and Shatraw scored when Narodowy took first on another infield miscue. After DiSpirito flew out to right, Forbes beat out another infield error, and Labonteâ€™s fielderâ€™s choice scored Nick Cicerone.
Actually, on the same play, Narodowy scampered home on the Sentinelsâ€™ fourth miscue.
That gave the Northmen the exorbitant 8-0 lead.
All told, Nappa yielded 13 hits and all eight runs, though only five were earned. He also walked one while striking out a pair. Brendan Riley tossed the final out in the sixth, while fellow righty Ryan Powell allowed just a hit and fanned one in the seventh.
Still, Smithfield fell to 3-6 in II-North.
â€śI thought Eric (Ethier) did a really nice job at short,â€ť Leddy claimed. â€śIt was his first varsity start there, and he played well defensively, but he also had a couple of big hits for us.
â€śOffensively, it took a few innings for us to get started; this was our first game in two weeks, since the Monday of (spring) vacation week,â€ť Leddy noted. â€śI was worried about us being stale. It may have taken us a couple to get our timing down, but that wasnâ€™t surprising because Nappaâ€™s a good pitcher.
â€śHeâ€™s a lot like Dylan; he doesnâ€™t really get himself in much trouble,â€ť he added. â€śOnce our guys got accustomed to what he was throwing, they started to hit the ball.â€ť
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