SOUTH KINGSTOWN—Old Mountain field has seen its share of firework displays over the years but after the first inning of Wednesday’s Ocean State Waves game the fans on hand seemed to be in store for quite a show.
Ocean State and the visiting Mystic Schooners combined for five runs and five extra base hits in the opening frame alone.
The wind ultimately let out of the Schooners sails though, and the Waves kept rolling as Ocean State went on for a 9-4 victory Wednesday.
“That’s what baseball’s all about and that’s why you have your teammates to pick you back up,” Waves manager Rian McCarthy said. “The bullpen did a fantastic job of picking [Waves starter] Jimmy [Duff] up tonight.”
Mystic didn’t wait long to get on the scoreboard as Keaton Flint led off with a single and Tyler Boyd followed with a two-run shot into the trees in right field.
Duff settled in somewhat after – inducing a pop out from Alec Keller and striking out Brandon Sappola – but Garrett Kennedy blasted Mystic’s second home run of the inning to deep left to push the lead to 3-0.
Byron Campbell started the Schooners back up again with a double but Duff worked his way around any further damage by getting Joel Rosencrance to ground out to Reed Gamache at second.
“Jimmy’s been great for us all year – this was probably one of his tougher starts – but he was able to show some character and really battle through the next few innings,” Ocean State’s Shaun McGraw said. “He trusted us to get him back in the game and fortunately we were able to do that for him.”
Ocean State wasted little time in responding as Evan Ocello led off with a home run to left and – after a Caden Bailey fly out – Mike Gerber tripled to the gap in left-center field.
Gerber came around on a McGraw groundout to round out the Waves’ scoring in the first to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Mystic pushed its lead to 4-2 in the third when Kennedy scored on an Anthony Turgeon single but Ocean State came back to tie it in the bottom half of the inning.
Gamache led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a pass ball but the rally stalled after Ocello struck out and Bailey grounded out to short.
Gerber then drew a walk and McGraw came through with a clutch, two-out double to plate both runs and tie the game at four-apiece.
Each team went down in order in the fourth but in the fifth the Waves began to distance themselves from the visitors.
Gamache, Ocello and Bailey each reached base safely, respectively, to start the inning and – after Gerber struck out – McGraw laced another ball to the fence in left center.
Unsure of whether or not Sappola caught the ball Bailey could only advance to second – limiting McGraw to a single – but Gamache and Ocello each scored on the play to break the tie.
For the game McGraw finished 2-for-4 with a single, double and five RBI.
“I was able to get off on some pitches early in the count. I think they were all first pitches for all my RBIs,” McGraw said. “I was seeing it well, it was getting the pitches I was looking for and I was able to get the barrel [of the bat] to it.”
Bailey was not on base for too long though as Christian Muscarello followed with an RBI single to increase the Waves’ lead to 7-4 after five.
Four straight singles from Gamache, Ocello, Bailey and Gerber – coupled with a sacrifice fly from Muscarello – in the sixth extended the lead to 9-4, which was more than enough for Ocean State’s staunch bullpen.
After Duff was lifted after the third inning Connor Kelly, John Murray and Oliver Powers combined to toss six scoreless.
“The whole coaching staff has complete trust in any one of those guys to put them out there and keep us in a game,” McCarthy said. “That’s what we ask of them when we put them in – just to keep us in it – and they did their jobs.”
For Powers – who recorded three straight outs in the ninth after Flint reached on an error to begin the inning – it was his fifth save of the season.
The Waves were back in action Thursday at Laconia (results unavailable at press time) and will return to Old Mountain Field today for a 6:35 p.m. start against Plymouth.
Ocean State will be looking to make its final push before the playoffs begin as the regular season comes to a close Friday, August 2.
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” McCarthy said of how his team’s feeling heading into the playoffs. “We’re trying to keep it as loose as humanly possible and I think we’re ready to rock and roll.”