Last Friday, the top-seeded Exeter-West Greenwich Scarlet Knights knocked off the Shea High School Raiders with a final score of 4-3. After a Game 1 that saw over ten runs for the Scarlet Knights the Raiders managed to keep the Division III powerhouse to a manageable four runs.
The Knights went on to face off against Rogers earlier this week in the championship at Rhode Island College. The Knights fell to Rogers 9-2 in Game 1, and 6-4 in Game 2. The Knights claim top runner-up in Division III for the second time in five years.
In their qualifying game last week, the Knights came out swinging with four unanswered runs in the first four innings. Although in true Knights fashion, the heat wore off and it was all Raiders after the fifth. Knights pitcher Devin Ricci, with tremendous command of his offspeed pitching, posted a shut out through six before things started to get interesting.
Shea tacked on two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a double from Shea superstar Manny Ortiz. Havoc ensued on the sidelines for the hometown Raiders, and a nervous energy surrounded the away bench.
Although this situation is familiar to the Knights coaching staff. After three consecutive playoff runs, coaches Dave Gamba and Will Knerr knew they had an opportunity to do something special. In the bottom of the seventh man on second with a score of 4-3, Gamba took his starter Ricci off the mound in place for junior sensation Gregory Hodges. Hodges didn’t disappoint and earned his first save of the postseason.
“Baseball is a mental game, you need to be able to rely on everyone to do their job when they’re called on.” said Gamba, “When you work hard in practice you’ll execute on the field.”
Gamba’s ability to plug anyone into any role made this Knights squad a scary team to any opponent in their division. With another season in the books, it will be interesting to see this Knights team again next year. A generally young team who will look to do more damage next year in 2020.
The Knights were up in Division II last season, and struggled, only winning three games all season. The year prior, they won seven games in D-II. This season was almost a direct repeat of the 2016, when they won 14 games and lost to Wheeler in the D-III championship round.