WOONSOCKET — In a 9-0 Injury Fund romp at Smithfield on Saturday, Woonsocket High assembled quite the defensive display, and head coach John Marsella expected the same from his troops in the Division I-North season opener at Barry Field 48 hours later.
Unfortunately for the Villa Novans, they committed a whopping seven miscues on an unseasonably warm Monday afternoon and suffered a 6-5 loss to Cranston East before approximately 75 fans.
Actually, Marsella admitted being quite pleased with his senior starter, Brandon Rainville, who yielded just four hits, four runs (one earned) and two walks while whiffing a quartet. He stated the same of reliever Scott Tucker, who allowed two hits and only one earned run (without a walk) in his 2 2/3-frame stint.
In the end, however, Woonsocket (0-1) mustered only four hits on the day, with two of those coming in a dramatic seventh inning.
“Sounds about right,” Marsella sighed when told the number of errors. “We had too many. After Saturday’s Injury Fund game, I told the kids that they had looked spectacular in the field. And, after this game, the first thing I said to them was the defense hurt us.
“The way we played (Monday), that was easily the worst (segment) of the game,” he added. “That’s a sign of youth, and maybe first-game jitters, but we’ll get to work and fix those problems right away.”
“Our pitchers were the best part. I thought Brandon kept the ball down and threw strikes, and Tuck did exactly what he was supposed to do – keep us close and keep us in it. Again, the errors didn’t help us.”
Cranston East couldn’t drive in Ivan Reyes, who had reached on a fielding miscue and robbed second in the first; but it did snag a 1-0 lead in the second. Nick Ferry drew a one-out walk, robbed second and took third on Nick Croft’s infield single, which loaded the bases.
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Designated hitter Harold Corniel then dribbled a swinging bunt just in front of sophomore catcher Alex Denoyelle, who only had to step on the plate for the final out. Instead, he threw to first baseman Josh Mousseau, who dropped it.
The Novans took a 2-1 cushion in the third when, with one out, Miguel Raymond, and Randy Reyes both drew walks off of righty starter Tyler Donahay, and Victor Hunt’s opposite-field single to right plated Raymond.
When first baseman Taylor Pacific grabbed the cutoff, he threw wildly to third, allowing Reyes to scamper home.
The ‘Bolt, however, needed little time to regain the lead at 3-2. Ferry opened the fourth with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third. Rainville then fanned Matt Corey, and Alex Corvese reached on another bobble by third baseman Juan Gonzales.
With runners at the corners, and two down, Corniel ripped a two-run single between shortstop and third.
Cranston East added another run in the fifth, though it came in unusual fashion. Ivan Reyes had started the inning with a bludgeoned triple to right-center, but the base umpire ruled he failed to touch second base.
Donahay, though, followed with a double, and Alex Figuerido immediately singled him across for the 5-2 advantage.
Marsella’s crew pulled to within a pair in the sixth when Rainville was hit by a one-out pitch delivered by reliever Nick Mendez, then took second when Kyle Beaulieu, the Novans’ backstop, reached on an outfield error. Gonzales walked to juice the bags, and Rainville raced in on Reyes’ infield hit.
The visitors tacked on one more in the seventh, courtesy of Donahay’s leadoff two-bagger to left-center, Figuerido’s sacrifice bunt and Ferry’s groundout to third, leaving Woonsocket three outs to rally from three down.
It nearly pulled it off with Alex Corvese replacing Mendez on the hill. Will Andino drilled a single to center to start it, and Jon Flynn was hit by a pitch before Mousseau plated Andino with a single to left.
Mousseau also hustled to second on left fielder Donahay’s wide throw to the plate, and Rainville reached on a grounder to third, though Flynn was tossed out at the plate.
Beaulieu’s sacrifice fly to right scored Mousseau from third, and Gonzales beat out an infield error, but Tucker bounced a grounder to second to end it.