WOONSOCKET — Three throwing errors, three walks, some mental miscues, and a couple of squeeze bunts in the final two innings of play added up to a disappointing loss for Woonsocket on Thursday afternoon.
Visiting South Kingstown erased a 2-1 deficit by scoring five unearned runs in those frames and found themselves busing home with a 7-2 victory in this Division II crossover game at Cold Spring Park.
The loss dropped the Novans’ record to 3-2 and knocked them out of their tie with North Smithfield for first place in the Division II-North standings. The Northmen topped Portsmouth later that afternoon to improve to 4-1.
“It doesn’t feel good to give one away,” noted Woonsocket coach Dan Belisle. “(South Kingstown) had one hard-hit ball all day, but a couple of mental errors, a couple of bad throws – we didn’t deserve to win.”
The Rebels (3-3) scored four runs in the sixth, and they knotted the score on an errant throw before going ahead on a safety squeeze bunt by Abigail Sweet that she was able to beat out for a hit and put runners on first and second with no outs.
The Villa Novans came back to get the next two outs, but just when it looked like they were going to avoid further damage, freshman ace pitcher Amanda Nunez walked No. 9 batter Sara Datson to load the bases for Ava DeMarco, who promptly ripped a two-run single to right.
In the seventh, Meghan Bolano led off when her fly ball to right field was misplayed for a three-base error. One out later, she dashed home on a squeeze bunt by Bonnie Branch and was able to score when her hard slide into catcher Kelsey Boucher jarred the ball from her glove.
After a wild pitch by Nunez, Sweet drove in Branch with a seeing-eye single to left.
The Rebels scored their first run way back in the first inning, but the Novans scored their two runs in the bottom of the fourth.
They put runners on the corners with no one out when Boucher led off with a walk and raced to third on a ground single to right by Nunez. Boucher then scored on a wild pitch by S.K. pitcher Jillian Hathaway, and with two outs, Allyson Cartier drove in courtesy runner Emily Brunetti with a line single to center.
Unfortunately for the Novans, their two hits in that inning accounted for more than half of their offense. They were limited to just three hits by Hathaway, a promising freshman who pitched her best game of the season, striking out eight batters and walking four.
Nunez held the Rebels, one of the highest-scoring teams in Division II, to eight base hits and four walks and struck out six, but the errors – namely the mental ones – added up to a rough afternoon for her and her teammates.
“We have to sharpen up our infield defense and get rid of these mental errors,” said Belisle. “I’ll take responsibility for that. That’s my job to make my players ready for games and they weren’t today. We have some work to do, but we’ll get better as the year goes on.”