NORTH SMITHFIELD - Thankfully for North Smithfield, Scituate’s comeback ran out of innings.
Owners of a 6-0 lead after three innings of play, the Northmen had to hold off the resilient Spartans over the last four frames before coming away with a 9-7 win on Monday afternoon in their Division II-North encounter on the Northmen’s campus.
The second-place Spartans fell to 11-3, but are still a game out of first place thanks to last-place Central Falls’ upset win over first-place Tolman yesterday. Scituate began their battle back by scoring twice in the top of the fourth off N.S. starter Ryan Masnyk.
The Northmen (now 9-5) responded with three runs in their half of the inning to take a 9-2 lead, but the Spartans continued to plug away. They scored twice in each of the next two innings, and added a run in the seventh and put the tying run on first with two outs off reliever Ian Pascoe.
But Pascoe and the Northmen were able to pick up the third out – thanks to a diving catch in center field by Erik Pelletier – and as a result, they were able to record a huge win that kept their hopes alive for a home game in their playoff opener next week.
“I just said to my guys, ‘I wouldn’t have felt comfortable (being) up 9-0 in the last inning against that team,’ because they can score quickly,” said N.S. coach Jon Leddy. “But we played very well. We got on them early, which is what we needed to do, and we made the plays when we had to (make them).”
The Northmen received six strong innings from Masnyk, who threw over 120 pitches and scattered six hits and eight walks to pick up the win. Pascoe earned a save by yielding an unearned run in the seventh and benefiting from Pelletier’s catch to wiggle out of a first-and-third, two-out jam.
“Ryan really stepped up,” noted Leddy. “He was running out of gas for a little while, but he told me he wanted to stay in there, and he’s a workhorse, so I trusted him.”
The Northmen, who dropped a 5-1 decision to the Spartans in their April 24 meeting at the Spartans’ Manning Field, jumped on top in the second with a four-run outburst.
With one out, the Northmen had the bases loaded on singles by Masnyk, Conor Dispirito, and Pascoe. No. 9 batter John Almeida and Brad Shatraw then worked walks off Scituate starter Scott Iacobucci to force in runs, and after Dylan Narodowy drove in Pascoe with a base hit, a fielder’s choice grounder by Pelletier scored Almeida.
After back-to-back sacrifice flies to center by Pascoe and Almeida made it a 6-0 game, it appeared like this afternoon was going to be ruled by the Northmen, but the Spartans had other thoughts.
A two-out, two-run single to left in the fourth by Tyler Farias put Scituate on the board, and after a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Nick Cicerone and a two-run single to left by Dispirito made it a 9-2 game, the visitors again struck with two outs in the fifth on a run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder by Iacobucci and an RBI single by Nick Pietrantozzi.
Masnyk began to show signs of fatigue in the sixth when he walked three of the first five batters he faced, including a free pass to Iacobucci that brought in the run that made it a 9-6 contest.
He finished the inning before giving way to Pascoe, who gave up an infield hit to the first batter he faced (Farias), and after a strikeout, saw an infield grounder by Scott Lynch get misplayed for an error.
A fielder’s choice grounder by Jim Gianquitti erased Lynch at second for the second out, but allowed Farias to score, and that brought the go-ahead run to the place in dangerous No. 3 batter Evan Cabral. But he was denied of a run-scoring bloop hit by Pelletier’s nice grab to end the drama and the contest.
The Northmen, who collected 10 hits in the game, received a 3-for-4 day from Dispirito and multiple hits from Narodowy.
This game was also the third in a season-ending, five-game homestand for the Northmen, who will host Shea on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. and Burrillville on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. If the Northmen win both games, they should be able to fetch either the seventh or eighth seed in the upcoming Div. II playoffs.
“We played well in our last two games,” said Leddy, whose crew was impressive in a 2-1 loss to Tolman on Saturday that took nine innings to finish. “Hopefully we can carry that over into our last two games. If we can continue playing well and come up big with wins there, then we’re going to be in good shape heading into the playoffs.”
Scituate 000 222 1—7-8-2
North Smithfield 042 300 x—9-10-2
Scott Iacobucci, Nick Pietrantozzi (3), Scott Lynch (5) and Tyler Farias; Ryan Masnyk, Ian Pascoe (7) and Mike Cicerone. 2B – Scott Lynch (S).