Playoff run ends for gritty Tiverton team
Sixteenth seed Tiverton had already knocked off top seed East Providence by a 2-1 score and nearly managed it a second time last week.
But Thursday’s Division II playoff game ended in dramatic and, for Tiverton, heartbreaking fashion as the Townies scored the winning run with two outs in the seventh and final inning in East Providence. The 3-2 loss, the team’s second in the double elimination format, was the season-ender for Tiverton.
“It was a tough one, especially the way it happened,” Coach Carl Reid said.
East Providence scored its winning run after Jasiah Hatch singled, stole second and third base, then scored on an infield hit by Nick Karalekas.
That infield hit “was a chopper in front of the plate,” Coach Reid said. “The ground was so hard that the ball bounced all the way over the pitcher.
Shortstop “Baxter Alves made a great running play on the ball, a strong throw but the baserunner just beat it to the plate. There was nothing we could do.”
Had the game been played just a couple days later, “after the rain, the ground wouldn’t have been so hard, the ball wouldn’t have taken such a huge bounce, who knows what might have happened.”
B.K. Kiser had three of Tiverton’s seven hits Thursday, including a single in the fifth that scored Andrew Bonoan (who had also singled) for the Tigers’ second run.
Tiverton got its first run in the second inning on an Eli Roeski single followed by a Jared Cordeira double.
Tiverton pitcher Mitch Hartnett closed out a stellar season and Tiverton career in his usual strong fashion, going the distance, throwing 83 pitches and allowing six hits and two walks.
“His pitching was excellent as usual, the team played good all-around defense (led by Alves play at shortstop) — they played their hearts out,” the coach said.
“Naturally they were tremendously disappointed with the way it all ended but later, after they had time to look back and think about it, the fact that they gave it their all against a very good team, that they played well, made it easier to swallow.”
Mike Allienello scored East Providence’s first run, which tied the game at one, after singling to lead off the bottom of the second inning, later coming around on an Eric Greaves’ base hit. Marc LaValley, likewise, scored after leading off the bottom of the third with a walk. Collin Costa later drove him in with a two-out single to put E.P. on top 2-1. The Tigers later knotted the score at two with a run in the top of the fifth.
Keith Grant was the winning pitcher, throwing the final two frames in relief of starter Kyle Marquis.
East Providence went on to lose to unbeaten Westerly on Saturday, June 8.
After beating East Providence the first time, Tiverton lost to Westerly 8-3 forcing the Tigers to play from the loser’s bracket. And after its first loss to Tiverton, East Providence rebounded to defeat Mount St. Charles, 5-1, setting the stage for the Tiveton/East Providence rematch.
The Tigers finished at 10-9 overall in league play, including their 1-2 record in the playoffs, and 12-9 overall.
Tiveton will be hit hard by graduation with the loss of five seniors — B.K. Kiser, Ryan Czaika, Mitch Hartnett, Drew Murray and Andrew Bonoan.
“A lot of these guys have been three-year starters — since they were sophomores,” Coach Reid said.
“It’s hard because you work together every day for so long, then it’s over so abruptly. We’ll miss this group.”
The loss is big, “but we have a great group of guys who have been working hard to take the next step,” Coach Reid added. “And they’ve seen from this bunch of seniors what can be accomplished from hard work and dedication.”