PAWTUCKET — For the first time in school history, the East Providence High baseball program claimed a championship, beating North Smithfield for the Division II title on Wednesday, June 18, at McCoy Stadium.
The Townies’ secured the 3-1 victory in Game 2 of the teams’ best-of-three series despite a late surge by the Northmen in the seventh inning. North Smithfield scoreless went in its last at bat with runners at first and third. E.P. won the first game, 5-2, the previous afternoon.
With the final out made, the Townies’ players rushed to the infield where they celebrated their victory in a mass of red and white uniforms. Later, they received an escort by E.P. Police Department cruisers back into the city and to the high school, a tradition for any Townie team that wins a championship.
E.P. pitcher Keith Grant, who threw 103 pitches and struck out five batters in his seven innings of work, appeared overwhelmed by the team’s accomplishment, crediting his mates for the victory.
“Our bats finally came around,” he said, after the Townies moved through the first two innings without a hit.
As the innings wore on, Grant said he started tiring, causing him to throw out of the strike zone. Despite that, the lefty persevered through seven innings, allowing only three hits, aided by a strong defense.
Key in the Townies’ offense was the baserunning of center fielder Jasiah Hatch. Hatch, who got on board three times in his four at bats – a strikeout, base hit, base on error and a walk – and stole four bases, crossing the plate twice. For his efforts, Hatch was named the Most Valuable Player of the Game. He was also awarded MVP by his teammates at the end the regular season.
Down 1-0 going into the third inning, EP’s Hatch led off with a base hit to center before stealing second and third to place him in scoring position. After two batters and two outs, first baseman Collin Costa flew to center. The Northmen’s right fielder and center fielder collided while tracking the fly ball, allowing the ball to drop in for a base hit that brought in the Townies’ first run. Costa stole second, but was left stranded after the third out.
In the following inning, the Townies were denied a run after DH Kyle Marquis hit a right field single. With a man on first left fielder Jared Estrella hit the second pitch offered deep into right field for a double. E.P. coach Bobby Rodericks gave Marquis the green light to round third and head for home, but the Northmen’s cut-off man relayed the ball to home before Marquis could reach the plate and he ran into the tag for the out.
With the score tied at 1-all going into the fifth inning, the Townies needed to put runs on the board.
A routine grounder to the second baseman by Hatch was mishandled, allowing the runner to reach first on the error. Hatch moved into scoring position with a stolen base with third baseman Marc LaValley at bat.
LaValley struck one into shallow left field for a base hit, while Coach Rodericks, confident of Hatch’s speed, signaled for him to head for home. The defense’s throw was off line, allowing Hatch to slide across the plate safely, avoiding the tag.
Moving through the order with a base hit, a walk and a strikeout, Marquis advanced the runners with a single on an error, allowing LaValley to score the final run of the game.
As the players celebrated their victory after the final out, Coach Rodericks beamed with “Townie Pride.”
“I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “I’ve been a Townie my whole life. We did this for East Providence.”