WOONSOCKET — A walk-off win that results in Woonsocket High’s first triumph of the season. That was the narrative of the Villa Novans’ come-from-behind performance on Monday.
You hate to associate “must win” with a game that takes place during the second week of the regular season. Standing at 0-2 in Division I-North and 0-3 overall, Woonsocket understood that halting the slide was imperative against a St. Raphael outfit that was seeking to maintain its pristine ways.
Whether desperation was a driving factor or not, Woonsocket’s gumption and perseverance was handsomely rewarded with one down in the last of the seventh inning. That’s when speedy shortstop Will Andino scored on a wild pitch by SRA starter Bob Bracken, the sequence resulting in a 4-3 final and setting off a mild Novan celebration.
Make no mistake: Woonsocket earned this one. Rallying from deficits of 1-0 after 3 ½ innings and 3-2 after 4 ½ frames were telling signs that, despite the way things have transpired to date, there was a steely-eyed resolve within the home dugout at Barry Field.
“Hopefully today is the start of something positive,” smiled Marsella, knowing full well that the next task awaiting his ball club is to build off Monday’s result.
Andino began the pivotal seventh with a high fly ball to the right-center gap that allowed him to pull into second base with a double. A throwing error by St. Raphael placed runners on first and third before St. Raphael mentor Tom “Saar” Sorrentine elected to intentionally walk John Flynn to set up a force-out situation at any base.
On the first pitch of his confrontation with Woonsocket’s Matt Lefebvre, Bracken (six strikeouts) uncorked an offering that scooted past Saints freshman catcher Dylan Boisclair. The ball had barely reached the backstop by the time Andino touched down with the deciding run.
Brandon Rainville weaved his way in and out of danger during seven innings of four-hit ball. The Woonsocket righty got out of a second-and-third jam in the first inning and ended another frame with a runner stranded in scoring position. Rainville saved his best for last, retiring the Saints in order in the seventh inning.
“As long as he keeps his pitch count down and can give us a whole game, he’s going to keep us in the mix,” noted Marsella. “It’s a confidence booster for the rest of the team when he’s out there.”
The Saints (2-1, Division I-North) broke through first when Boisclair doubled in Ben Duarte in the fourth. After the Villa Novans scored twice in the bottom of the frame, the visitors responded with a two-spot of its own in the top of the fifth. A single by Ben Roy scored senior Zach Mitsmenn, who reached via hit by pitch before stealing second. Mitsmenn was attempting to steal third when Roy singled up the middle.
SRA’s third and final run was the result of a bases loaded walk drawn by Nicholas Sisto, one of four free passes issued by Rainville.
“We’ve been playing good enough to win; we just didn’t get it done today,” said Sorrentine. “We had some scoring chances that we didn’t capitalize on.”
In what could be considered a foreshadowing, Andino delivered a RBI triple to tie the game at 3-all in the sixth inning. Flynn reached base safely four times – two walks, two hits – while Lefebvre collected two hits, one a double.
“We got up here early to take extra batting practice; I’m glad it paid off,” said Marsella.
More than anything, Marsella was proud of the fact that his Novans committed just one error; his team was guilty of seven miscues that led to four unearned runs during last Monday’s 6-5 setback to Cranston East.
Monday saw the Saints and Villa Novans kick off a week that will feature three league games for each side. SRA plays North Providence at Vets Park on Wednesday before heading to Tucker Field to tango with Cumberland on Friday. Woonsocket has a pair of road dates, Wednesday at Cranston West and Friday at Lincoln.