WEST WARWICK RI – After losing on Wednesday night both NEFL and Post Two were faced with a win or go home situation on Thursday afternoon. Post Two would strike first scoring three runs, however Post Two would still leave the bases loaded giving up a chance of breaking the game wide open. After chipping away at the lead in the bottom half of the second, NEFL would follow in their next at-bats by breaking the game wide open. NEFL would score 7 runs in the fourth. Post Two would be able to score two runs in the seventh; however NEFL would respond back with two runs of their own. Post Two would score one last run however the run would serve as nothing but cutting the five run deficit to four. The 10-6 win means that Post Two’s season has ended and NEFL lives to play another day.
With their season on the line NEFL sent Kyle Fitzsimmons to the hill. After walking the first batter he faced, Fitzsimmons was able to settle down forcing back to back fly outs and a line out to Rob Reardon in left. West Warwick’s starter John Kalajian would follow Fitzsimmons lead limiting NEFL’s offensive production to a single walk. Beside the walk Kalajian forced a pop out to second, a fly out to right field, and got Reardon to strike out looking.
After scoring nothing in the first, Post Two was able to break through for some runs in the second. Ronny Patalano leadoff for Post Two with a walk and Steve Inmann followed with a single to left. The runners were moved up as Dan Caron laid a bunt down, giving Post Two runners in scoring position. With the count 2-0, Fitzsimmons got wild throwing a ball that the NEFL’s catcher Nick Savage couldn’t get a hold of. The passed ball allowed Inmann to reach third and Patalano was able to plate the first Post Two run. Fitzsimmons would then walk back to back batters loading the bases for Post Two. Due to the fact that Thursday was an elimination game, the leash was short for Fitzsimmons. With that being said NEFL decided to go to their bullpen bringing in Branden Hoxsie. The first batter that Hoxsie would face would be Jonny Lamendola who would ground out into a fielder’s choice that would be good enough to plate Inmann and the second Post Two run. With runners on the corners, Post Two decided to try a double steal to plate another run. NEFL’s sloppy play would cost them another run. The double steal was successful as Savage’s throw to the cut off deflected off of Hoxsie’s lower thigh as Post Two was able to plate another run. Three runs would be all that Post Two would score in the second as Hoxsie forced a pop out to the first baseman to end the inning.
Now with a three run cushion Kalajian was quick to send down the NEFL batters. NEFL was sent down as they came with a line out, ground out, and fly out. Hoxsie would have the same result in the top half of the third. Hoxsie would be able to settle down forcing two groundouts and a fly out to send down the NEFL batters 1-2-3.
NEFL began their comeback in the third. Colin Stamps leadoff the inning with a walk and Ted Dwyer followed singling to left giving NEFL two early base runners. The runners would move up a few pitches later as a pickoff throw by Kalajian went wild. With runners on second and third, Kalajian was able to force a ground out to third holding the runners. NEFL would have the bases loaded as Nick McGuirl walked. After striking out Reardon swinging, Kalajian came one out from getting out of the third with no runs against him. However four straight balls to Hoxsie would walk in the first NEFL run. However, NEFL would leave the bases loaded as Donny McGuirl grounded out to the second baseman.
Post Two looked to respond to NEFL’s one run as Hoxsie walked the first two batters he faced. However, Post Two wouldn’t be able to move the runners as Hoxsie was able to strike out Cote Nicholas swinging and got Sean Mahoney to ground out into an inning ending double play.
After chipping away in the third, NEFL was finally able to break through in the fourth. Back to back walks put two runners on for NEFL. Stamps laid a bunt down to move the runners. Stamps bunt did so and even allowed Stamps to reach as after Kalajian grounded the bunt there was no chance of throwing out Stamps at first. NEFL wouldn’t let this bases loaded chance get away from them as after a first pitch ball, Kalajian’s pitch got by Inmann allowing all the runners to move up and allowing NEFL to plate their second run. Dwyer would fly out; however the fly out was deep enough for Savage to score from third tieing the game up at three. Zach Blanchard would put NEFL in the lead with an RBI single to left scoring Stamps. After getting Reardon to strike out swinging, the bases would be loaded again as Kalajian would walk Hoxsie on a 3-2 count. Kalajian would lose another 3-2 count, which resulted in another NEFL run to score. TJ Boyajian followed by unloading the bases with a triple over the center fielder’s head allowing three NEFL runs to score.
Post Two had to get to work quickly down by five runs. After back to back outs, Post Two was able to get two runners to reach as Cam Brown and Kalajian walked. Post Two would make nothing of it as Patalano would ground out to end the inning. After scoring seven runs, NEFL would be made quick work of in the sixth. Kalajian sent the NEFL batters down 1-2-3 as NEFL flew out three times to end the inning.
Hoxsie followed with his own 1-2-3 inning. Hoxsie was able to force a line-out, ground out, and fly out, to end Post Two’s sixth quickly. Beside a walk, NEFL wouldn’t be able to produce any offensive production in the sixth. A ground out and two fly outs would end NEFL’s sixth.
Post Two looked to chip away in the seventh. A leadoff single would give Post Two an early base runner, and Tim Printer was able to capitalize as he doubled to left platting the fourth Post Two run. Printer would later score as Kalajian doubled to center field. That would be all Post Two would find in the seventh as a Patalano ground out would end Post Two’s chances of cutting the deficit any shorter.
NEFL would respond right back with two more runs in their half of the seventh, as after a leadoff double and single put runners on for NEFL, Dwyer and Blanchard had back to back singles that would plate one run apiece.
Post Two would plate one more run in the game however the NEFL lead would still be too much to handle. Post Two’s season ended as Kalajian flew out and Patalano and Morrison both struck out. Post Two’s starter pitched a great game beside the fourth inning. Kalajian pitched three and two thirds of an inning, allowing eight runs on three hits, while walking nine and striking out three. After Fitzsimmons was pulled Brendan Hoxie came in and pitched a great game for NEFL. Hoxie pitched seven and two thirds of an inning. Hoxsie allowed three runs on five hits while walking six and striking out five. The NEFL bats were led by TJ Boyajian who was 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs in Thursday’s game.
NEFL will now play Cumberland Post 14 who is coming off an unexpected loss to Collette Vacations. To keep their season going NEFL’s manager Dave McGuirl stated “it all starts on the mound. We need to get good starting pitching. We need to get a good four or five innings out of our starter tomorrow”. NEFL will play Cumberland Friday at 2 pm at McCarthy Stadium.