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WOONSOCKET â Playing tight, or extra-inning, tilts is becoming quite the norm for Burrillville High.
Back on April 11, the Broncos snatched a 10-6, 10-frame affair against Central Falls, then â the very next day â lost to red-hot Johnston, 6-5, in nine. And, on Tuesday, it overcame an early deficit and edged North Smithfield, 10-9, with a run in the back half of the seventh.
Head coach Skee Carter found his club in the same position when it faced Woonsocket on Thursday, but walked away disappointed when the Villa Novans utilized a stellar suicide-squeeze bunt to clinch an 8-7, nine-inning victory at Barry Field.
In the bottom of the ninth, sophomore reliever James Stead hit senior Andreas Brackett with his first delivery, and Brackett reached second on a wild pitch before moving to third on classmate Cory Lawrenceâs sacrifice bunt.
Fellow senior John Parenteau followed with a bunt down the first-base line, and â by the time first baseman Kevin Deschamps fielded it â Brackett had already reached the plate with the game-winner.
Junior Cody LâHeureux, who allowed only one hit and two walks (with a pair of strikeouts) in three frames, got the win, one that pushed the âNovans to 6-1 and into a first-place tie with Johnston.
The Broncos fell to 4-3.
âOur guys played a great game,â Carter stated afterward. âI told them after the game that we have a habit of getting down early in virtually every game we play because of mistakes. I also said that I like the way they donât give up and continue to fight back.
âFor four games in a row, we had the lead entering the top of the seventh but gave it up. We just need to learn how to close out games.
âYou know, weâre getting used to this,â he added with a sad grin. âI took our JV team to Westerly, and we lost 5-4 in eight innings.â
As for Woonsocket skipper John Marsella, he explained he was hardly thrilled with giving up cushions of 5-0 and 6-1, but felt satisfaction with how his own guys battled.
âBurrillville played a great ballgame,â he noted. âOur pitching was decent, and I thought Cody LâHeureux did a nice job of shutting them down over the last three. He gave us enough time to fight back and get the win.â
When asked if he had planned the suicide-squeeze play beforehand, he flashed a wry smile and said, âIf youâre asking me to reveal my in-game strategies, I wonât do it.â
He hesitated, then continued, âIt was a situation where I thought it was appropriate, and that it was well-executed. Thatâs why we practice it.â
He also was asked how often they do so, he grinned again and offered, âOften enough to make us feel comfortable with it.â
Deschamps, Carterâs starter, assembled an on-and-off kind of outing. In the initial seven innings, he yielded nine hits, seven runs (four earned) and two walks while fanning eight, but he also recorded four wild pitches and two hit-batsmen.
In the first, he allowed leadoff batter LâHeureux reached on an infield hit and moved to second on a wild offering. With one down, senior Will Andino ripped a grounder to freshman shortstop
Chad Stone, but his throw tipped off first baseman Scott Duquetteâs glove, and LâHereux scored with ease while Andino was awarded second.
Andino eventually scored on senior Cory Lawrenceâs fielderâs choice for the 2-0 lead.
Woonsocket added three more in the second, and in dramatic fashion. Deschamps actually had struck out the leadoff batter, freshman Jaquan Guerrero, but backstop Zach Lafleur failed to field the third strike cleanly, allowing Guerrero to race to first.
With one down, sophomore Randy Reyes punched a single, and both he and Guerrero moved up on a wild pitch. LâHeureux plated Guerrero with an infield hit, and sophomore Victor Huntâs single scored Reyes.
On the latter play, first baseman Duquette had run to third in an attempt to tag out LâHeureux, who was sliding, and he apparently fell on his right wrist. With the game halted, coaches called an ambulance, and rescue personnel eventually took him to Landmark Medical Center.
Carter said later Duquette had suffered a fractured wrist.
When the contest resumed, Andino whacked a sacrifice fly to center, and LâHeureux tallied the âNovansâ fifth run.
The Broncos got on the board in the top of the fourth when Stone took second on an outfield two-base drop, reached third on a passed ball and came in on Deschampsâ sacrifice fly to center. In the end, sophomore righty John Flynn ended the frame with two consecutive strikeouts.
Marsellaâs crew mustered another in the fourth. Hunt drew a two-out walk, hustled to second when Deschamps threw wildly to first on a pickoff attempt and scored on Andinoâs base hit to left. (He, however, was thrown out trying to stretch into a two-bagger).
The Broncos sent eight to the plate, scoring a quartet, in the top of the fifth and sliced the deficit to 6-5. Stone led off with a triple over left fielder Lawrenceâs head and walked home on Deschampsâ ground single to left.
Senior Glen St. Pierre then reached on a fielderâs choice (Deschamps out at second), and sophomore Christian Fietz and classmate Stead both drew walks to load the bags.
Thatâs when Duquetteâs replacement, Andrew Carlson, roped a two-run single to left, and senior Brandon Gaucherâs groundout to third plated Stead.
Flynn managed to get Burrillville in order in the sixth, but got into a jam in the seventh. Once he walked St. Pierre and allowed Fietz to reach on his own throwing error, Marsella pulled him in favor of LâHeureux.
St. Pierre stole second, and Stead poked a bloop fly to right, but Guerrero dropped it, causing St. Pierre to score. Carlson sacrifice-bunted Fietz to third, and Gaucherâs infield hit brought in Fietz, giving the Broncos its first lead at 7-6.
In the bottom of the seventh, Deschamps hit leadoff batter Andino, and he took second on a wild pickoff throw to first and ran to third on Brackettâs no-out, bad-hop single to left. Brackett stole second, and Parenteau plated Andino with a sacrifice bunt to tie it at 7-all.
Woonsocket, however, stranded Brackett at third.
That only set up the ninth-inning heroics by Parenteau, who closed at 1-for-3 with two RBI..
LâHeureux went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Andino finished 1-for-3 with two RBI and a pair of runs; Brackett 3-for-4 with a run and Hunt 1-for-4 with an RBI and run.
Carlson led the Broncos, going 1-for-3 with two RBI, while St. Pierre went 2-for-4 with two RBI; Fietz 1-for-3 with a pair of runs; Stone 1-for-4 with two runs; and Gaucher 1-for-5 with two RBI.
âDeschamps pitched a great game, but we didnât make the plays behind him,â Carter noted. âHe had, like, a 2.30 ERA the first five games last year, but we were 0-5, and it was because of our defense.
âLosing Duquette hurt us a little because we had guys playing out of position; Andrew (Carlson) isnât a first baseman, he plays second and short,â he continued. âKyle Wilkinson is our backup first baseman, but I had him DH-ing for our catcher, Lafleur. I couldnât put Wilkie out there at first because then I wouldâve lost Lafleur.
âI will say I think weâre playing good ball now. We just have to jump out to some leads and play better defense.â