NARRAGANSETT — No matter how good the West Warwick baseball team is, the Wizards always find Narragansett’s Sprague Park a difficult place to play.
Whether it’s the cold breeze blowing off the Bay or simply the talented Mariners on the other side of the field, West Warwick usually makes the trek back up Route 4 with a defeat.
The Wizards went to Sprague Tuesday afternoon with plenty of confidence following last week’s season-opening, mercy-rule win over Mt. Hope.
The Wizards returned to their bus not exactly sure what happened after Narragansett senior pitcher Zach McKanna held the Wizards to one hit, while the Mariners took advantage of starter Kyle Beck’s wildness to earn a 10-0 mercy-rule win.
“Have we won here before? Yes we have, but this is a difficult place to play,” West Warwick coach Richard Grenier said. “Zach threw well enough and when we did have a couple of opportunities we hit the ball right at them. They made the most of
their opportunities and we walked a few too many people.”
“Don’t let the score fool you, it’s always a battle with them,” Narragansett coach Keith Vellone said. “The second time around is not going to be like this. They are a good team - we know that. We always battle and it’s always a very close game. I didn’t expect this today, but I’m very proud of my guys.”
Both coaches came into the game expecting a low-scoring contest considering Beck threw a no-hitter against the Huskies and McKanna has been the Mariners’ ace for the last few seasons.
McKanna certainly delivered on his end of the bargain. The senior righty struck out at least two batters in four of the five innings and he struck out nine in total. The only batter to reach base against him in the first three innings was junior Rich McNeil, who walked and was subsequently picked off second base.
“He had command the whole day and he was in control of everything,” Vellone said. “Any time he wanted to throw his off-speed pitch he spotted it. He had a good fastball. Zach was outstanding.”
Beck extended his no-hit streak to six innings after the first inning, but there were already signs the senior wasn’t at his best. Beck walked McKanna and Ross Hodnett but managed to get out of the inning by forcing Cullen McGill to fly out to McNeil in right.
Beck wasn’t as lucky in the second inning when he walked two more batters because Jimmy Kershaw delivered a two-run single to left field to start the Mariner onslaught. Beck allowed five earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings before Drew Doran relieved him in the third inning.
“It just seemed like Kyle wasn’t getting the corners like he did in the last game,” Grenier said. “In his next start I’m sure he’ll be back finding the corners. This is just one of those games.”
Narragansett (1-1 Division I-South) received fantastic offensive production from the bottom of its order. No. 8 hitter Bradley West led the way with three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored, while No. 9 hitter Justin Cronan had two runs scored and two RBIs. No. 6 hitter Nick Schone added two hits and two runs scored.
“I have to give the bottom of the order a lot of credit,” Vellone said. “Even in the non-league games and some of the scrimmages that we’ve played, the bottom of the order has been consistently on base. If those guys are on base that brings up the top of the order.”
West Warwick (1-1 Division II-South) only had one hit and it was a Ray Zincone infield single in the fifth inning. Zincone and Andrew Hebert ended up being stranded on base when sophomore pinch hitter Evan Barrera struck out.
The Wizards best chance to keep the game close came in the fourth inning when Ryan O’Kelly (error), McNeil (walk) and Gregg D’Ambrosca (walk) loaded the bases with two outs for Richard Grenier Jr., who stung a ball to the left side but was caught by Kershaw.
Narragansett immediately followed by scoring a run in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 6-0 and then Mariners finished the game off with four runs in the sixth. West singled home Schone and then Cronan doubled in Connor Butler and West. Austin Butler lined a single to left to plate Cronan to end the game.
“All the teams are tough in this division with the new realignment,” Vellone said. “I know West Warwick is stronger than what they were today.”