COVENTRY — The inexperienced Coventry baseball team can’t afford to give away runs this season, but that’s exactly what happened in the team’s Division I-South home opener against Barrington Wednesday afternoon.
The Eagles, without the benefit of a hit, scored the game-winning run in the first inning and then the visitors added another run in the second inning on a swinging bunt, a sacrifice bunt, a ground out and a balk.
Those two runs were all Barrington junior starting pitcher Retsyn Ootton would need as the Eagle scattered four hits in a complete-game shutout. Coventry senior Brandon Pare also pitched well, but the Oakers suffered their first loss of the season, a 3-0 setback.
“[Pare] gave us a chance to win and I thought we put some pretty good swings on the ball, we just had the at-’em ball working against us,” Coventry coach Leo Bush said. “We ran the bases pretty well and we’re going to be aggressive. If we’re going to make mistakes they’re going to be aggressive mistakes.
“I believe we’re going to score runs and those hits are going to fall for us, but unfortunately for us today they had a couple of plays which went in their favor today.”
The good news for Coventry )1-1 Division I-South) and Bush is that through the first week of the season the team’s untested pitching staff is standing up to the rigors of Division I baseball. Senior Justin Jadach pitched into the sixth inning in a win over Pilgrim on Monday and Pare was strong into the seventh inning Wednesday.
Senior Aaron Guenet, who earned the win Monday with two innings of sparkling relief, stranded two base runners in the seventh when he induced Quinn Morvillo to pop out to second baseman Nick Palumbo.
“Both [Pare] and Jadach came out and threw fantastic games without much experience,” Bush said. “I’m very pleased with that and it’s something to build on. Naturally our offense is going to come and our defensive looked good today, turning a double play”
Coventry’s offense, which has produced just two runs in the first 15 innings of the season, proved to be the team’s undoing. All four of Coventry’s hits came with two outs and all of their base runners in scoring position came with two outs.
The Oakers’ best chance to score came in the second inning when Ootton set down the first two batters only to allow a single to Shawn Pacifico and a walk to sophomore outfielder Erik O’Connell.
Sophomore third baseman Jordan Irish, who had a tough day in the field with two errors, struck out on five pitches to end the threat.
‘We don’t walk out of here with our tail between our legs,” Bush said. ‘We know we have something to build on. This is experience that we are going to get.”
By the time Irish struck out the Oakers were already down a pair of runs. Barrington lead-off hitter Matt Calitri drew a walk to start the game and after Nate Bannon struck out, Pare walked another batter. Calitri advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Morvillo ground out.
The Eagles added another run in the second inning. Denali Sexton reached base to start the inning on a swinging bunt. After a sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice the Eagles had runners on first and third. Pare balked in a run, but managed to wriggle his way out of further damage.
“I think we probably could’ve helped ourselves a little bit there,” Bush said.
Junior shortstop Shaun Vigeant had a two-out single and a steal in the third and Palumbo singled with two outs and stole second in the fifth, but both runners were stranded in scoring position.
Nick Merritt singled in the sixth but was stranded at first and Pacifico reached on an error in the seventh, but he never moved into scoring position.
Coventry returns to action Monday against Division I runner-up South Kingstown at Old Mountain Field. Bush said he is pleased with the 1-1 start to begin the season.
“Any win we get is going to be big right now for a number of reasons,” Bush said. “Confidence-wise, we know we can win a game. Now it’s just backing up our sound pitching with some offense.”