WOONSOCKET — In an impressive 26-game win streak that dates back to its season opener a year ago, Lincoln has experienced only a handful of close games that not only tested the team’s mettle, but also presented some anxious moments for its players, coaches, and fans.
But while most of those tight contests were decided by three or more runs, only one was a one-run nailbiter — Tuesday afternoon’s chilly Division I affair against host and longtime foe Mount St. Charles.
Down by a 5-4 score after two innings of play, the Lions relied on a pair of two-out RBI singles by Adriana Toro and five superb hitless innings of relief by Lindsay Mayer to bus home with a 6-5 triumph that bumped the Lions’ record to 4-0.
“A win is a win,” said Lincoln coach Dick Ryan. “I’m glad to see how we reacted in a one-run game because we haven’t played in a lot of close games and most of our games have been relatively easy. Hopefully, a game like this can help make us better going down the road.”
The Lions fell prey to a five-run rally in the bottom of the second inning by the Mounties that saw Lincoln commit three of its four errors in the game and allow four runs to score on back-to-back errors with two outs.
“We started some kids in different positions that had never played there before,” admitted Ryan. “I just told them that part of that was my fault because I wanted to see how they would do. It was very uncharacteristic of us to make those errors and lose concentration on some easy plays, but again, part of that blame was on me.”
After the second inning, Ryan moved some of his players back to their original positions and brought in Mayer to relieve starting pitcher Lauren Hervieux, who did a fine job in her time on the mound.
“I thought Lauren was throwing the ball well, but it wasn’t fair to her,” offered Ryan. “We didn’t have some people in the right spots, and that’s the only reason I took Lauren out. But once I moved people back and brought Lindsay in (to pitch), I knew she’d shut the door on them.”
And that she did. Mayer, who had struck out 33 batters and yielded just five hits and three walks in 19 scoreless innings of work this season, added to those lofty totals by shutting down the Mounties on two walks the rest of the way while fanning four. She also only allowed two batted balls to reach the outfield.
The Lions stormed out to a 3-0 lead in their opening swings off MSC starting pitcher Kristen Rodrigues, as back-to-back infield errors with one out set the stage for a run-scoring single to left by Emily Bouthillette, a sacrifice fly to right by Stacey Mayer, and a RBI double to right-center by Hervieux.
Lincoln then made it a 4-0 game in the second on a two-out RBI single by Lindsay Mayer that caromed off the third-base bag and sailed into shallow left, but the Mounties made their move in the home half of the inning.
They loaded the bases with no one out on an infield error, a walk to Rachel Coia, and a bloop single to center by Kylie Finnerty. Hervieux came back to strike out the next batter she faced and get the second out on a forceout at the plate, but consecutive fielding miscues allowed the hosts to tie the score.
Briana Castro then capped the rally and gave Mount the lead with a bloop single to right-center that was nearly gloved by a diving attempt by Toro in center.
“Our goals today were to put the ball in play and stretch their defense,” added Mount coach Cliff Matthews. “We hit the ball pretty well, we had some good at-bats, and we ran the bases intelligently.”
But then Toro came to the rescue. In the fourth, she tied the score with a ground single to right to drive in Kellyn Dyer, who led the inning off with an infield single, and in the sixth, she put Lincoln ahead to stay with an opposite-field double to left that scored Meredith Walsh, who reached base with her second bunt hit of the day.
While both teams teamed up to make six errors in the field, they also turned in their share of splendid defensive plays. Mount center fielder Emily DiCecco and Finnerty in right had some nice running catches in the game’s latter innings, Toro threw out a runner at the plate to end the first inning, and Lincoln catcher Stacey Mayer gunned down two runners trying to steal bases.
The Mounties, who enter this season with a young senior-less squad that lost seven players during the offseason, fell to 1-4, but Matthews hopes his team can build off its well-played game against the defending state champions.
“I’m hoping that this is a game where we turn the corner,” he said. “I dont think we’ve played anywhere near as well as we could have played (in the first four games), but today, we came close to playing a perfect game for us.”
The Lions are back in action tomorrow with a 1 p.m. showdown with East Providence (4-1) at Saylesville Elementary School’s Sullivan Field. The Townies dropped their first game of the season on Tuesday to Chariho (also 4-1) by a 3-1 score.
Mount, meanwhile, will travel across the city next Monday for a 3:45 p.m. showdown against intracity foe Woonsocket at Cold Spring Park.