KINGSTON—The University of Rhode Island baseball team kicked off their A10 schedule over the weekend, with a rough series against defending conference champions Dayton at Bill Beck Memorial Field.
After his team’s disappointing loss in game three on Easter Sunday URI head coach Jim Foster summed up the weekend’s games bluntly and succinctly.
“The baseball that was played here the last three days, guys, was bad baseball,” he said. “Both teams were bad, they won two out of three cause they got a five run inning on Friday and a five run inning [Sunday]. A lot of that was because of our own cause.
“At times this year we have been our own worse enemy, [Sunday] it was like that. The juniors and seniors are struggling right now and its tough to
play winning baseball when your upper classmen aren’t getting it done.”
Things started on a positive note for the Rams in Friday afternoon’s series opener, with senior Mike Bradstreet taking the mound toting a 38-inning scoreless streak.
The Rams took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when third baseman Mike LeBel hit a sacrifice fly that plated Cranston native Jeff Roy.
Rhody’s lead - and Bradstreet’s scoreless streak - would not last though as Dayton hung five runs on the Rams in the fifth inning to hault Bradstreet’s stretch without allowing a run at 32 and two-thirds innings.
The Flyers added another run in the seventh, while the Rams got a second in the eighth but it wasn’t enough as Dayton held on for the 6-2 victory.
URI worked counts and got on base, drawing nine walks, but the problem was bringing them home as Ram batters stranded 13 men in total.
In Saturday’s win senior and Warwick native Sean Furney pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout as the Rams cruised to a 4-0 victory. In the breezy, conservative effort Furney faced the minimum 27 batters on 83 pitches while striking out four, walking none and recording five infield assists.
“Furney pitched a great game,” Foster said.
Unfortunately for the Rams Sunday’s series finale followed a similar script to that of Friday’s opener as opposed to Saturday’s gem.
Freshman leftie Steve Moyers was dealing early and through the first five innings had allowed just one hit to go with six strikeouts.
While Moyers was pitching well Rhody also got it done at the offensive end.
The Rams once again struck early when Roy drew a walk, got a steal and came around on RBI single from LeBel in the first inning.
URI added two more runs in the fourth with back-to-back doubles by second baseman Pat Fortunato and Cranston native Shane O’Connell. Roy knocked in O’Connell after a single by fellow Cranstonite Chris Famiglietti.
As it was in Friday’s game, however, the fifth inning was once again the Rams’ downfall Sunday.
In the fifth the Flyers scored five runs thanks to a couple singles from the top of the order, a Rhody throwing error and a homerun from Mark Podlas.
“Anything soft and over the plate is a favor,” Foster said. “That’s what the homerun [Sunday] was, it was a changeup.
“We didn’t execute a few pitches and they took advantage of it.”
Dayton matriculated another in the seventh to go ahead 6-3 with a hit-by-pitch, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
Rhode Island looked to be materializing a comeback in the eighth when O’Connell led off with a single but a few moments later the rally ended in puzzling fashion.
Following O’Connell’s single Fortunato seemed to have drawn a walk but instead the call was a late, questionable third strike.
Thinking the call was a fourth ball, O’Connell started towards second only to be tagged out for the unconventional double play.
To further convolute the play the ball also appeared to have fallen out of the first baseman’s glove when tagging out O’Connell.
“The ball hit his glove and popped out,” Foster said. “I saw it and no one else saw it.”