WEST WARWICK- As Matt Grenier stepped into the batters box with his team down to their final out against Slocum, it would have been understandable to assume that there was a lot on the line. In a way, there was.
The scoreboard beyond left field was not in use, but if it had been, it would have shown that the home team had amassed no runs on no hits throughout the entire game,. The fact that they were trailing 7-0 was less of a concern than the very real possibility that they could be no-hit on their home field by Patrick Maybach, who was just one out away from accomplishing the feat.
Grenier, who had grounded out in his previous two at-bats was able to hit a ground ball with just enough on it that it got through the hole between short and third, giving West Warwick their first and only hit of the day. The next hitter, Andrew D’Ambrosca was able to reach on an error at second before Ryan Carlson struck out looking to end the game, as Slocum walked off the field 7-0 winners.
“Breaking up the no-hitter was just for pride,” West Warwick Manager Richard Grenier said after the game, praising Maybach for his dominance on the mound. “He did really well for North Kingstown High School this year. You’re talking an All-Division player and we just couldn’t do much offensively. He just had strong command of his fastball and was really good spotting his offside stuff,” he said.
On the opposing end, Slocum Manager Arnie Sarazen, who gets a firsthand look at the hard throwing southpaw on a regular basis, highlighted his value to the team.
“Patrick’s been our top pitcher all season. He really mixes it up well and pitches at a high level,” he said.
On Monday, that high level took place over the span of seven full innings that saw him throw 88 pitches, rack up 12 strikeouts and allow just one hit. A two-out walk to Tyler Boisclair in the bottom of the fifth ended his bid for a perfect game, but nothing would come of the base on balls, as Boisclair’s pinch runner, Chase Joubert was picked off of first base moments later to end the frame.
Maybach, who pitches during the academic year at North Kingstown High School, was fully aware of what was on the line, having never come so close to throwing a no-hitter before. He credited his location as the primary reason for his overall success.
“Just like location-wise, my slider was good today,” he said. His ability to get ahead in the count makes it that much harder for opponent to get a read on him. “He throws strike one and that sets up everything else. His off speed stuff is almost un-hittable and he’s always pitching from ahead in the count,” Sarazen said.
Maybach was equally potent at the plate as well, picking up a bunt single in the second and a line drive single to left in the sixth, both innings in which his team put runs on the board. The game itself was an important one too, as both teams entered the day tied for first atop the Cooney Division with 9-3-1 records.
Saranzen noted the significance of the win for his team, who closes out the regular season on Wednesday at home against East Greenwich.
“Top-seeding is important come playoff time,” he said. Matt Hopper would get the ball for West Warwick on the day, and for the most part, pitched a strong game.
The fact that the offense could not provide him with any run support did not help matters. A swiftly turned 6-4-3 double play in the top of the first kept Slocum off of the scoreboard, but the chance to turn a 4-6-3 one in the second backfired, as two runs wound up crossing home plate on the play, giving the visitors the early lead. A light sprinkle began to fall as the top of the third got underway, but it never amounted to more than that.
The game would continue in its entirety, as the skies cleared up and the game was completed in less than two hours time. Maybach had his most impressive inning in the bottom of the third, as he struck out Robert Bird, Kyle Kortick and Mike Pellerin in order, making it look all too easy, though the score remained 2-0, very much either side’s to take.
The top of the sixth was when the game began to unravel for West Warwick, as they watched a two-run deficit turn into a seven run one. Nick Sisson delivered a two-run broken bat single to center field to make it 4-0, as an error combined with another RBI single led to Colby Knott moving from behind the plate to on the mound in replace of Hopper.
A wild pitch made it 7-0 before the inning was over. West Warwick was retired in order in the bottom of the sixth before Ryan Carlson pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the top of the seventh. Maybach showed no signs of fatigue as he took the mound in search of keeping West Warwick hitless.
He struck out Pellerin and Knott to begin the frame, but had his bid broken up on Grenier’s single moments later. Nonetheless, the starter, aided by a seven run lead, would manage to finish the job two batters later and help propel his team into first place. West Warwick will officially wrap up the regular season on Wednesday night when they host Chariho. Start time for that game has yet to be determined.