CUMBERLAND â€” Itâ€™s almost eerie how well Cumberland High struck the ball on Tuesday afternoon.
â€śWe hit it pretty well in our second game against Moses Brown, and in the Injury Fund (tilt) against Woonsocket, but Iâ€™ve never seen anything like this,â€ť explained senior righty Justin Patrick after the Clippers clubbed 17 hits â€“ including nine for extra bases â€“ in a 14-0 thrashing of still-winless Smithfield High at Tucker Field.
â€śI think a lot of it was contagious,â€ť he added. â€śWeâ€™d be sitting in the dugout and see guy after guy pounding it, so weâ€™d want to go up there and pound it, too. Everyone in the starting lineup had at least one hit, so thatâ€™s really good to see.â€ť
Stated skipper Paul Murphy: â€śIâ€™ve been here nine years, and I probably havenâ€™t seen it like this, at least in terms of the extra-base hits. I just hope this continues.â€ť
Murphy noted that his squad had been playing extremely well during the first half of the 2011 campaign, though the Clippers dropped their last seven contests to fall out of playoff contention.
â€śItâ€™s too early to tell how weâ€™ll do this season, as itâ€™s still early,â€ť he said. â€śI never thought Iâ€™d see that happen to us because we had beaten both North Kingstown and Cranston West, the two teams that made it to the Division I state championship final, and West won it.
â€śIt was crazy,â€ť he continued. â€śIt wasnâ€™t like we were error-prone, and it wasnâ€™t the pitching. We just couldnâ€™t hit the ball. We were in every game; we never got blown out. It was weird â€“ we had eight guys go into a slump those final seven games.
â€śI just want the guys to go to the plate with confidence, and attempt to have a good, smart at-bat in every inning, every game.â€ť
On the hill, Patrick â€“ in a word â€“ was superb. The tall, lanky righty, who about six weeks ago signed a letter-of-intent to attend the University of South Florida on a baseball scholarship â€“ allowed only two hits (without a walk) and fanned 12 in five innings.
(The game ended after the top of the fifth, as the umpiring tandem enacted the Rhode Island Interscholastic Leagueâ€™s 10-run â€śmercy ruleâ€ť).
Junior Pete Travers led the charge, going 3-for-3 with a home run, double, two RBI and three runs scored. Senior Ryan Harris went 3-for-3 with two triples, two RBI and a pair of runs; junior Dylan Boisclair 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI and a run; senior Christian Spader 2-for-3 with an RBI and run; and junior Greg Joubert 1-for-4 with a dinger, two RBI and a run.
Even sophomore Joe Fine, batting in the ninth hole, delivered a 2-for-3 performance with a double, an RBI and two runs.
Harris actually reached on an infield single off of eventual losing pitcher and senior righthander Jeff Langellier in the bottom of the first â€“ that after Patrick whiffed the side â€“ then took second on a wild pitch, but his lineup stranded him there.
The Clippers hardly failed in the â€śLOBâ€ť category again.
In the back half of the second, they sent 11 to the plate, with the eight-run flurry starting when Patrick reached on a bad-hop single up the middle. He moved to second on an infield throwing error and third on Boisclairâ€™s groundout to second before Traversâ€™ line-drive hit up the middle plated him.
After registering the second out, Langellier yielded Fine a double to the right-center gap to score Travers, and Harrisâ€™ triple to the same spot drove in Fine. Thatâ€™s when Joubert laced a two-run blast over the 355-foot sign in left-center to give the Clippers a 5-0 lead.
Spader and senior Matt Billington both singled, and Langellier hit Patrick to load the bags before Boisclair rapped a clearing double to left, though he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
The rally continued in the third, Travers belting a 1-0 delivery from reliever Rob Coroia approximately 325 feet and just inside the left-field foul pole. With one down, Fine reached on an infield hit, took second on an infield throwing miscue and third on a wild pitch before scoring on Harrisâ€™ second triple of the tilt.
Joubert fanned, but Spader whacked a triple of his own to right-center and later scored on Billingtonâ€™s double to left.
Cumberland added two more in the fourth on junior Matt Bareâ€™s RBI single, and after Joubert reached on another infield throwing error.
Smithfieldâ€™s lone hits belonged to Kane and Ryan Malloy. All told, Patrick allowed only two other batted balls, catcher Bob Maceraâ€™s fly to center to end the second and Kaneâ€™s groundout to first (Patrick covering).
When asked what he thought of Patrickâ€™s outing, Sentinelsâ€™ head coach Steve Quattrini stated with a smile, â€śI love the way he pitches. The kid can throw, no doubt. Heâ€™s got a nice fastball, and his off-speed stuff is better than his fastball. When you can spot those pitches like he did, the result is going to be exactly what it was. I tip my hat to him.
â€śJeff (Langellier) is just coming off a groin injury he suffered,â€ť he added. â€śHeâ€™s an All-Division (II) hockey player, and he hasnâ€™t thrown much this spring. I thought he had pretty good control.â€ť
Stated Patrick: â€śI felt pretty good, After our first game (a 4-2 loss to senior-filled North Providence), I felt like I had better command of my curveball and changeup.
â€śAs for what happened last year (to our playoff hopes), I think we learned from it, but weâ€™re definitely not swelling on it,â€ť he added. â€śWeâ€™re just taking it one game at a time â€¦ I will say it felt good to get my first win, but what matters more is I think weâ€™re in pretty good shape after this one. We just have to keep working hard.â€ť