Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Baseball Drops the Ball for the First Time, Falls to the Rams, 6-2

We've seen some classic rivalry matchups between the Hawks and the Rams during this school year. 

There was the football game back in October, when Lee Moses broke a 53-yard run with less than two minutes remaining to give the Hawks a 23-21 win, and, of course, after having been soundly beaten twice by the Rams on the hardwood, our guys delivered the performance of the basketball season in upsetting their archrivals in the state semi-finals in the Ryan Center, 69-62. 

When the baseball teams met for the first time this spring, it was our guys who struck first, taking a 9-6 win on Pepin Field. With both teams having entered the season amongst the heavy favorites to vie for the state title, it seems only appropriate, then, that if any team were going to break up the Hawks' undefeated string, it would be the Maroon. 

That they did, knocking off the Hawks, 6-2, yesterday afternoon down on Academy Avenue.

Just a sidenote to the game itself - the once common element in both of those games? THE WIND. Lord, have mercy on The Network broadcast team. If this continues, we're gonna start putting in for hazard pay. This needs to stop.

The entire game, from beginning to end, can still be seen in the first Ustream viewer at the top of the site.

The Providence Journal's slideshow from the game can be seen HERE

The game itself was fairly well-played on both sides but ultimately turned on a handful of plays, none more important than Dante Baldelli's valiant attempt to come up with a diving catch on a sinking line drive to center field off the bat of LaSalle's third baseman, Doug Harrison. Had Dante opted to keep the ball in front of him and play it safe, the hit would have resulted in a run for the Rams; however, once Dante made the decision to go for the out, only to have to ball make it safely under his glove and then roll all the way to the deepest part of the ball park, one sure run resulted in three. It was a great attempt, no doubt, but games and sometimes entire seasons can turn on such fragile moments.  

There were two other plays that also had an effect on the outcome, but neither had near the impact as the first. Early in the game, a Hawks' hitter lined a shot that bounced in fair down the right-field line, a hit that should have allowed Christian Aybar to score with ease all the way from first base and sent Ryan Rotundo to third; however, with the ball getting caught in the fence, the umpires ruled the play a ground-rule double, which sent Aybar back to third and Rotundo to second. From our angle on the roof of the press box, though, it at least appeared that CJ Dandaneau, the Rams' right fielder, reached for the ball before he signaled for the dead ball. If, in fact, that that was the case, then the ground rule should be that runners are free to take as many bases as they can. 

Perhaps our view was incorrect, perhaps the umpires didn't see what we thought we had. No matter. Those are the vagaries of the game. The Rams played a very good game and deserved to win. 

The final of the three moments that were potential game-changers was when former Hawk Armani Henderson lifted a bloop to shallow left field, on which Hawks' left fielder Christian Aybar came charging in and certainly seemed to have made a clean catch; the umpires, however, ruled it a trap, a ruling that allowed a run to score for the Rams. That play can be seen at around the 43:00 mark of the game, in the viewer above.

Matt Kennedy pitched a pretty strong game, going 5 2/3 innings during which he largely scattered nine hits, with the two aforementioned ones that caused him the most difficulty. He struck out three and walked only a single batter. Offensively, things weren't churning for the Hawks as they had been over the previous five games, but Ryan Rotondo (three hits, including two doubles) and Billy Keegan (two hits, including a double) did their part in trying to keep our guys in the game. 

All relevant game stats are provided below. 

Next up for the Hawks is a trip to North Providence tomorrow afternoon to take on the surprising Cougars. Game time is 4pm, and The Network will have it live, beginning at about 3:50 pm.