COVENTRY- A pair of home runs off the bat of Jayden Voelker were not enough to negate a shaky outing on the mound, as the Coventry High School baseball team (6-6) was doubled up at home on Tuesday afternoon, falling to visiting Cumberland by an 8-4 final.
Voelker, coming off a 14-strikeout performance against Cranston East on April 30, lasted just two innings against the Clippers on Tuesday, surrendering a total of five runs, four of which came via home run balls.
Head coach Leo Bush pointed to a lack of command as the primary reason for the sophomore’s struggles on the hill, as Cumberland jumped out to an early and never gave it up.
“Give them credit. They squared up quite a few pitches against him. (They) took advantage of the pitch count, he got himself behind and they made him pay for it,” he said.
CJ Davock delivered the biggest blast of the game, a three-run shot in the top of the first, giving the Clippers an early 3-0 edge.
Voelker responded by hitting a two-run home run off of Clipper starting pitcher Michael Clapprood in the home half of the inning, cutting Coventry’s deficit to just one run.
“Give him credit for turning around and taking some of the runs back on his end,” Bush said of the left-handed hitter, who added a solo shot off of Clapprood in the fifth to make it 8-4 in what turned out to be the final run scored by either side on the day.
The Clippers (6-5) answered Voelker’s first home run with their second one of the game, as Michael Nocera led off the top of the second with a solo shot to left, making it 4-2 at the time. An RBI single off the bat of Ben Fogell upped the lead back to three runs, which proved to be more than enough for Clapprood, who, for the second time in as many starts, went the distance.
“Michael Clapprood did an excellent job for us. That’s back-to-back complete games for him. He keeps the pitch count low, throws a lot of strikes,” Andy Tuetken said of his starter, who allowed four runs over seven frames.
The Oakers made it a two-run game on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Matthew Durkin in the second, but managed just one run from that point forward.
“Coventry’s a good team, but he’s able to, for the most part, keep them off-balance and great defense behind him. That always helps out a pitcher, for sure,” Tuetken said of his starter’s outing.
Anthony Braddock took over for Voelker in the third and managed to hold the Clippers in check until the top of the fifth when they put together their second three-run frame of the day to grab a commanding 8-3 lead.
Lucas Lariviere, who led the inning off with a double to left center and advanced to third on a Joseph Molis sacrifice bunt, scored moments later on a successful suicide squeeze by Shane Calabro. Nick Croteau and Davock added RBI singles later on, giving the visitors their biggest lead of the game.
Cam Vesey tossed a scoreless sixth and seventh for the Oakers to help keep the game within reach.
“We’ll see them again on Thursday, so we’ve got at least a little information on them in terms of hitting and we’ll go from there,” Bush said of his club’s focus headed into tomorrow’s rematch.
As for his club’s overall 6-6 record, he knows that now is the time to turn the corner.
“Obviously, this is the biggest third of the season coming up. Bottom line is when you get to this point in the year, you’ve got to start putting together your best games,” he said.
On the other end, Tuetken was pleased by what he saw out of the meat of his lineup, with his top three hitters all collecting three hits on the day.
“CJ’s home run in the first inning kind of set the tone. Jayden’s a very good pitcher up there
“Anytime you can get some runs on the board early against a kid like that, you’re pleased,” he said.
The two teams will shift venues and meet one another tomorrow afternoon at Cumberland High School with first pitch set for 4 p.m.