WEST WARWICK — Navigant Credit Union Post 85 will try to become the first eighth seed in the state tournament in recent memory to capture a R.I. championship this afternoon when the Woonsocket-based squad clashes with fourth-seeded Senerchia Post 74 at McCarthy Stadium.
Navigant earned the right to play for the title on Saturday afternoon by posting a 6-2 victory over New England Frozen Lemonade/Shields Post 43 in the losers’ bracket finale back at the West Warwick complex.
Now 16-13, Post 85 will need to beat Senerchia, a team comprised entirely of former and current Bishop Hendricken players, twice in order to become the first Woonsocket team since 1989 to win a state crown.
Both teams will meet at noon, and if Navigant beats Senerchia, the two teams will renew acquaintances 20 minutes after the completion of that game in a winner-take-all showdown.
Senerchia handed Navigant its first loss of the double-elimination tourney in Friday’s winners’ bracket final, 3-0, forcing Post 85 to battle for their postseason survival the next day.
In Saturday’s game, Navigant starting pitcher Kory Lawrence and reliever Aaron Catarina teamed up on a three-hitter, but also combined to walk 10 batters.
“I’m happy with today’s win,” said Navigant manager Jim Gauthier, “but if we walk that many batters tomorrow, we’re going to be out of this tournament.”
Lawrence, who struck out three batters and gave up one hit and six walks in 5 2/3 scoreless innings, picked up the win, and after he reached the 120-pitch count, Catarina came in and earned a save by allowing two hits and four walks in the final 3 1/3 innings.
Navigant quickly got on the board in the top of the first by scoring twice, and after Post 85 added a run in the fourth, it tacked on two more runs in the fifth.
Post 85 scored its final run in the eighth, and Post 47 made things interesting by scoring its runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
At the plate, Navigant was led by E.J. Torres, who went 3-for-5 with a double and a pair of runs batted in. Brandon Rainville also singled, doubled, and drove in two runs, Will Andino added a run-scoring single, and Andreas Bracket doubled.