Badia, Canales lead East past Pilgrim

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The Cranston East baseball team broke a 2-2 tie against Pilgrim (8-8) in the bottom of the sixth at Cranston Stadium on Thursday afternoon, as a Gio Canales RBI single and a Sam Hanley sacrifice fly highlighted a three-run inning that helped the ’Bolts (12-4) to a 5-2 victory.

East answered back after squandering a two-run lead in the fifth, allowing the Pats to pull even.

But, East was able to rally in the sixth behind some patience at the plate and timely hitting.

“Obviously, we don’t want to score two and then give up two,” East head coach Michael Walsh said. “We’ve been down in a lot of games early, and we’ve been tied and have played a lot of extra-inning games, so that type of stuff really doesn’t faze them right now.”

The first three and a half innings of play belonged to starting pitchers Marcos Badia and Will Martino.

Pilgrim threatened after hits from Sean Blanchard and Evan O’Connor in the fourth, but Badia was able to maneuver his way out of that jam to keep the game scoreless.

East didn’t record its first hit off Martino until the bottom of the fourth inning, when Alex Martinez led off with a base knock. Jacob Palazzo followed with a double, moving Martinez to third before racing home on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. Two batters later, Canales ripped his first of two RBI singles in the game, scoring Palazzo to up the lead to 2-0.

“I think, with our order, we have a tendency to wait one time through and try to figure things out,” Walsh said of his offense not getting its first hit until the fourth inning. “We’d like to do it a little bit earlier, but we didn’t. Once we saw (Martino) once, we started to get some better swings on him.”

East was looking for a shutdown inning in the fifth after putting up the game’s first runs, but it had no such luck.

Pilgrim’s offense then went to work, with Ronald Minear and Michael Hampson recording back-to-back singles off Badia to start the top of the fifth, and Matt Woods followed by drawing a walk to load the bases.

With no outs, Badia desperately needed a double play ball and he got one, but Jacob Resendes sprinted down the first base line to reach safely after the force at second. Minear scored on the play to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.

Kyle Denis then stepped to the plate and ripped a single up the middle to bring Hampson home, tying the game at 2.

“We’ve been doing it all year long,” Pilgrim head coach Nolan Landy said of his team battling back. “We had a couple guys missing from our lineup today, and it didn’t change things. We battled and we were in the game until the very end.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Anthony Ramos led off with a walk against Pilgrim reliever Nick Laramee, and a balk allowed Ramos to jog to second.

Robenson Antoine followed with a sacrifice bunt, but the ball was mishandled by Laramee, allowing Antoine to reach safely, putting runners at the corners with no outs.

Canales came through with the eventual game-winning hit – a single that plated Ramos to make it 3-2.

Antoine made it a two-run game when he sprinted home on a wild pitch, and Hanley gave the ’Bolts some extra insurance when he lifted a one-out pitch deep enough to right field to score Canales with a sacrifice fly, making it 5-2.

Hampson and Woods had consecutive singles off Badia in the top of the seventh, but the East right-hander got Resendes to ground out to shortstop, before striking out Denis and Blanchard to end the game.

Badia scattered eight hits in a complete-game effort, striking out six.

“He’s done a great job all year for us,” Walsh said of Badia. “He throws a lot of strikes. He’s not going to overpower guys and strike a lot of guys out, but he just throws strikes. At the end, he located his pitches and got tough. When he needs to bear down, he does a good job.”

Even with the result, Landy believes that he and his team can take some positives away from a close battle with East, which currently sits in second place in Division I.

“This league is wide open this year,” Landy said. “Anyone can play with anyone. [East] is in second place and we battled them. We can play with anyone, we just need to be mentally locked in and that’s where we faltered a little bit today, which cost us.”

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