COVENTRY- Even after a 6-3 home loss to Hendricken last week, the team’s fifth setback in a row, Coventry High School baseball coach Leo Bush remained confident that his club would find their way into the postseason before time ran out.
A 21-10 rout over Chariho on Sunday helped get the ball rolling in the right direction, while a 7-2 Senior Day victory over Cranston West on Tuesday officially guaranteed that last year’s D-I finalists will indeed be heading back to the playoffs.
“Standings-wise this does a lot for us. I think it pretty much cements us in the playoffs and gives us a chance to make another run,” Bush said after his team defeated the Falcons, improving to 8-9 on the year with one game left to go.
Jayden Voelker, whose own Senior Day is still two years down the road, looked every bit the veteran on Tuesday as he delivered both on the mound and at the plate in his team’s penultimate regular season contest.
The sophomore was nearly untouchable on the hill in a complete game performance that saw him allow just two runs on four hits, while striking out eight.
Known to rely primarily on his fastball to overpower hitters, Bush was pleased to see Voelker incorporate some different tactics on Tuesday.
“He has flashes of efficiency too where he didn’t have to do all of his work with strikeouts,” he said. “He was able to involve his fielders and get a coupe of double plays behind him. He was part of one of them, but it was nice to see him pitch to a little bit of contact and get everyone involved,” he said.
At the plate, he was just as effective, driving home the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first before doubling with one out in the bottom of the fifth and coming around to score on a Jake Organ RBI single. A diving catch in right field by Cranston West’s Matthew Carvalho in the bottom of the third was the only reason Voelker wound up with one double on the day and not two.
Also with a big day at the plate was senior Devyn Vezina who went 3-for-4 with a pair of singles and one double, driving in one run and scoring another against Falcon starter Massimo Feroce.
Feroce threw every inning but one for the visitors, allowing all seven runs in the loss, as Cranston West dropped to 10-7 on the year.
Vezina singled off of him to lead off the bottom of the first before a hit and run play with Nick Fuentes at the plate gave the Oakers an early scoring opportunity.
“Helped set the tone early on with the hit and run. Right off the bat, you have second and third with nobody out. Good things can happen from that point,” Bush said.
Voelker brought home Vezina on a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0, with Vezina helping to fuel the home team’s second run of the day two innings later with a one out single. Fuentes reached safely on an error at third, putting both runners in scoring position for Will Turner who was unable to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt, but everything still worked out in the end. Falcon catcher Tom Barbieri tagged out Vezina who was running home on the play, but airmailed his throw to third in an attempt to get Fuentes, who easily scored to make it 2-0.
The fourth inning was when the game broke open, as a Tyler Barr RBI single, follo wed by an error at short helped set the stage for Vezina once again with the third baseman lacing a pitch up the middle for a two-run single to make it 6-0 at the time before Organ’s RBI single in the fifth rounded out the home team’s scoring surge.
Barbieri ended Voelker’s shutout bid with a two-run home run to right in the sixth, but it proved to be of little consequence, with the Oakers still up comfortably, 7-2.
Voelker retired the next four hitters he faced to close out the win, getting Jacob SanAntonio to strike out looking to end the game.
“We got our seventh (win) and our eighth here and we still have another to go to keep getting better and get ourselves ready to go,” Bush said of his team’s mentality moving forward.
The Oakers and Falcons will meet again tomorrow afternoon in the tail end of their home-and-home series at Cranston West High School. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. The playoffs are set to begin next week.