Sports editor emeritus
PAWTUCKET — Woonsocket play a crisp baseball game befitting the cool April afternoon on Thursday, rolling to a convincing 9-1 victory over St. Raphael Academy at Veterans Park field.
The Villa Novans got six strong innings of three-hit pitching from Miguel Raymond and backed their junior right-hander with a 12-hit offensive splurge that featured two perfect hit-and-run plays.
“We practice with a purpose,” coach Ed Hunt said after his team improved to 2-1 in Division I. “We want to do those things on offense, hit-and-run, steal bases … we actually missed a couple of signs today. There are things we can do better and have to do better because there are no easy games in our league.”
Thursday’s game might qualify. St. Raphael is fielding a young and inexperienced team that needs to play together in live competition for a few weeks before it begins to reach its potential.
“We made too many mistakes today,” said Saints coach Tom Sorrentine, who watched his team commit four errors behind losing pitcher Robert Bracken. “Woonsocket is a good team. They’re very balanced and can put a lot of pressure on your defense.”
The Saints actually took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Ben Roy singled, moved up on a walk to J.T. Holmes, and came home on Jake Roy’s single. Outside of Ben Roy’s single in the third inning, the Saints would get only one more base-runner the rest of the game as Raymond completely neutralized the SRA hitters. Raymond walked only one batter and fanned six.
Woonsocket put three runs on the board in the second inning. Kyle Beaulieu opened with a double and Manny Ceballos, a freshman filling in at DH, singled him home. Ceballos went to second on a wild throw home and eventually scored on another infield error by the Saints. Josh Mousseau walked and came around on a single by Randy Reyes to give Woonsocket a 3-1 lead.
Raymond, who reached base on an error in the second inning, jammed his right ankle rounding second base and spent a few minutes walking the pain off under the watchful eye of Ed Hunt. The solidly built righty then went and struck out the side in the bottom of the second, putting any doubts about his health to rest.
Woonsocket got two more runs in the third inning on a pair of walks, a wild pitch, an intentional walk and a two-out single by Alex Denoyle that barely reached the outfield grass behind shortstop.
Elijah Brackett-Adams made it a 6-1 game in the fourth inning with a run-scoring single that plated Woonsocket shortstop Will Andino, who finished with two hits and two runs scored.
The Villa Novans tacked on three runs in the sixth inning. Andino reached on an error, went to third on Victor Hunt’s single, and scored on a single by Brackett-Adams, the big right fielder who bats cleanup. Brackett-Adams finished with two hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Beaulieu made it 8-1 with a sacrifice fly and Ceballos collected his third single of the game to account for the final run.
Woonsocket played a sharp defensive game, highlighted by Andino’s range and strong arm at shortstop.
“We have a good mix of veterans and young players,” Hunt said. “Ceballos stepped in and got three hits today. Our leaders are Victor Hunt, Jonathan Flynn and Will Andino but we have a lot of depth on this team. We lost to Cranston East by one run with four starters missing last week. We just have to keep improving every game.”
Woonsocket, now 2-1 in league play, faces a tough schedule next week, beginning with home games against traditional powers Cranston West (Monday) and Lincoln (Wednesday) before finishing out the week on the road at Cumberland.
“The rubber hits the road next week,” Hunt said.
SRA, now 0-3 in league play, visits North Providence on Monday.