WEST WARWICK — The West Warwick Post Two American Legion baseball team desperately needed to win Tuesday’s regular-season finale against Gordon Greene to avoid playing in the single-elimination round of the upcoming Legion playoffs.
Of course, they didn’t expect to win the game in the manner they did.
With West Warwick’s Matt Peterson facing a full count with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Matt Laferriere took off for third base. Peterson walked and the throw to third snuck past the third base man allowing Laferriere to score to deliver Post Two a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
“It didn’t occur to me that nobody was on first base until I actually started running to third,” Laferriere said. “The ball went past the third baseman and we got the walk-off win. I just always assume that on a 3-2 with two outs you’re running, but it didn’t hit me that no one was on first until after.”
“It was a wacky way to win a ball game,” Post Two coach John Parente said.
Gordon Greene starter Jake Marchessault wasn’t frustrated with the error, he was more frustrated that the pitch to Peterson wasn’t called a strike, which would’ve sent the game to the ninth inning.
“I don’t know what happened. I thought the pitch looked good. I thought it was a strike,” Marchessault said. “To me it was right down the middle, but that’s obviously just me. It’s tough because this is probably my last Legion game ever.”
Tuesday’s win snaps a run of five losses in the previous six games for West Warwick and ensures the squad avoids Thursday’s single-elimination round of the Legion playoffs. Post Two will play Cranston’s Gershkoff-Auburn Post 20 in a best-of-three series starting Friday night at McCarthy.
Post 20 defeated Post Two 8-2 Monday night, but Laferriere wasn’t on the mound Monday, but he will Friday night. Post Two hasn’t lost a game Laferriere has started this summer.
“Absolutely. I’m always ready to go,” Laferriere said about taking the ball Friday night.
Gordon Greene, which came into the summer trying to build off the momentum of Chariho and Westerly’s deep runs in the Division II playoffs, will be on the road Thursday night in a single-elimination contest.
The squad picked up just four wins and lost its last four games of the regular season.
“I’m not sure what happened. That’s been our question the whole season,” Marchessault said of the struggles. “We thought we were going to pick it later on because we thought the high-school guys were tired because their season ended when ours started. We did lose some big leaders from last year’s team like (Andrew) Ford.”
Marchessault, who was the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference rookie of the year at Johnson & Wales in the spring, personified why a pitcher’s win-loss record is completely pointless.
The Chariho product was simply too good for Post Two for most of the evening at McCarthy Field. Marchessault struck out every single Post Two starter at least once and finished up with 16 strikeouts against just five walks and four hits. Marchessault struck out at least five batters in a row twice in the game.
“The curveball was the go-to pitch,” Marchessault said. “Usually it’s my change-up but the curveball was on so I just went with it.”
“He’s just a tremendous kid and a credit to the program at Johnson & Wales,” said Parente, who stepped down as JWU’s athletic director last year. “That was a typical Jake Marchessault game. His slider just devastates and he’s got a real good change-up.”
Post Two’s defensive problems, which led directly to both losses Monday night, popped up against in the second inning Tuesday. An infield error on a ball hit by Alex Tefft and a misplayed ball in the outfield off the bat of Jake Garro allowed the guests to grab a two-run lead.
Westerly’s Nate Cahoone, who scored the second run of the inning, had three hits, while Garro delivered two. Mike Pagliarini and Jimmy Paquette had Gordon Greene’s two other hits.
East Greenwich’s Jake Moss only struck out one batter in his eight-inning effort, but he induced 18 groundball outs to earn the win.
Post Two tied the game in the sixth inning when Ray Zincone started the inning with a walk and eventually moved to third on a single by Cote Nichols and a hit by pitch to Rich McNeil.
Laferriere, who’d struck out twice already, hit a soft ground ball to third base. The throw to first went into the outfield and Zincone and Nichols scored to tie the game.
“We battled successfully,” Parente said. “We finally got some timely stuff done.”
Gordon Greene didn’t have many chances to score after the second inning. Moss didn’t allow a runner beyond first base in the final four innings and he was aided by two double plays started by West Warwick’s Nate Grandchamp.
Laferriere started the eighth with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and then made sure his team would have a few days off to prepare for the playoffs when he scored on the throwing error to end the game.
“We’ve played something like 11 games in nine days, so two days off is a welcomed respite,” Parente said. “As long as we can field the ball we’ll be fine. We’ll have Matt on Friday and then Saturday is a question mark.”