WARWICK – It was an auspicious debut for the Coventry Oakers’ baseball team Saturday as they opened up their season with an 8-4 win over the Warwick Vets Hurricanes in an Injury Fund matchup.
Shaking off a slow start due to unfavorable weather conditions, the Oakers appeared sharp in most fazes of the game much to the delight of head coach Leo Bush.
“We played good ball today. We made all of the plays out there that we needed to and only made one error, which came late in the game. We ran the bases aggressively. Each guy in the order 1 thru 9 was disciplined and swung at strikes. It was a solid effort,” he said. “These kids have worked hard to stay in shape over the winter and got their work done at the indoor academy. This team wants it badly, they want to be good and (Saturday) was a good first step in that direction.”
Junior Colin Gallagher got the start for Coventry and after surrendering two first inning runs, settled down and found his rhythm.
In fact, in his final three innings of work, Gallagher did not allow a Hurricane to reach base.
“He did a real nice job, especially after that first inning. He was up in the zone early in the game and they took advantage. The weather conditions made it tough for him to get acclimated to the mound, but his velocity improved over the course of the game and he mixed in his curveball for strikes and that allowed him to be efficient out there for the four innings he pitched,” Bush said.
After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning, Coventry 1-2-3 hitters responded with two runs of its to tie the game at 2-2 off of Warwick Vets’ starter Cory Muto.
Alex Zannella led off the inning with a single and was driven home on an RBI double by Cote Nichols.
Nichols was subsequently driven in by Brandon Sullivan, who collected two RBI on the day.
“It was important to respond the way we did after they jumped out 2-0 on us,” Bush said. “We were swinging the bats well and scoring those two runs certainly gave the team a lift.”
Zannella, Nichols, and Sullivan each banged out two hits.
“The top of order was great. They set the table for us. Our cleanup hitter Troy Fredette also had two RBI’s and had a productive afternoon,” Bush said. “We put good swings on the ball, didn’t strike out much, took the walks when they were wild and overall, we had an efficient day offensively. I’m very pleased with our approach at the plate.”
Coventry would go on to score two more runs in the top of third to and took the lead for good on an RBI double by Fredette.
The Oakers scored eight unanswered runs in total after trailing 2-0, which was more than enough for John Croft, who came in relief of Gallagher.
Big things are expected from the junior Croft and he answered the bell by tossing two scoreless innings.
“John looked sharp. He threw the ball well. We wanted to get him out there and keep his arm fresh,” Bush said.
Warwick Vets closed out the scoring with two runs in the top of the seventh on an error and two bloop base hits.
Coventry will now turn its attention to the South Kingstown Rebels and its Division-I South regular season home opener tomorrow, weather permitting.
“We are all excited about the season. We hope it doesn’t rain on Tuesday because we want to go out again and show what we are capable of,” Bush said.