After last year’s successes, the South Kingstown High baseball team opened their 2013 season with a lot of promise as they took to the field for their opener on Monday in Portsmouth.
The Rebels put their best foot forward as they began their journey back to McCoy Stadium with a 7-0 road victory over Portsmouth.
The Rebels put together more than a solid run in 2012.
After finishing the regular season in second place in the Division I-South standings with a 14-4 record, South tore through the Division I playoffs, recording wins over Pilgrim and Cumberland in the Regional Finals and Final Four, respectively, to earn a birth in the championship round against Bishop Hendricken.
Unfortunately for the SK Nine, the Hendricken pitching staff overpowered the Rebels and the Hawks earned themselves a two game sweep and the 2012 title.
It will be difficult for South Kingstown to live up to their performance last season, and
the Rebels will have to face that uphill battle with a remade team in the field.
“We graduated our whole infield, so whenever you have to plug in a new infield, you never know what to expect,” said South Kingstown head coach Jim Sauro of his team heading into the season. “It’s like starting from scratch.”
His team’s play in the field will dictate how successful they are this spring.
All eyes will be on Cameron Meystre and Robert Ballinger up the middle and Zach Tombs and Nathan Vandemoer on the infield corners as they replace last year’s finalist defense.
Despite being completely remade and still learning the intricacies of South Kingstown’s defensive plays, “The guys seem to have picked it up well, and though we’re not perfect, we’re improving every day,” said Sauro.
“If we make the plays, we should do well.”
So far, the Rebels’ new look defense seems up for the challenge.
Though the bats came out swinging on Monday, methodically putting up seven runs on 11 hits, it was the Rebels performance in the field that keyed the victory.
Senior pitcher Connor Barrett led the charge, getting the start on the mound and throwing five scoreless innings, striking out three, before giving way to Tom Kazounis, who pitched the final two innings to finish off the shutout. The duo yielded just seven hits and one walk to the Patriots.
“He looked good,” commented Sauro on his starter’s performance, “mixed up his pitches well and kept the ball down.”
With just three strikeouts from his pitching staff, that meant 18 balls ended up in play for Sauro’s club, giving his defense a good test to start their season.
A challenge to which they soundly responded, making a play on every ball that came their way.
“Whenever you make every play, you’re in for a good game,” said the coach.
Moving forward, Sauro does not see the Rebels’ new look and inexperience as any reason to temper his expectations towards continuing SK’s run of success.
“We take it one step at a time here,” remarked the skipper, “but the goals stay pretty high. We look to compete for the division title and go deep into the playoffs every year.”
The Rebels will now look to follow up Monday night’s win with another as they close out the first week of their season with a game on Thursday afternoon at rival North Kingstown.