The East Providence Townies scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning to come back and beat the Johnston Panthers 8-4 on Tuesday evening at Johnston Memorial Park.
East Providence senior Ben Sears earned the win, pitching 5 2/3 innings and striking out four. At the plate, Sears hit two doubles and drove in three runs.
Johnston junior Matt Loffredo took the loss, pitching four innings before he was pulled in the fifth after yielding five runs. On offense, senior Zach Clesas hit a home run and drove in two runs.
Panthers head coach Joseph Acciardo thought Loffredo pitched well for most of the contest.
“He’s been doing well,” Acciardo said. “They’re a good team. You can’t make mistakes. I don’t think he was tired, but we were missing with our off-speed pitches and once that’s not working, we start to be a little predictable. The ball started to flatten out and they sent it for rides.”
East Providence scored the first run of the game in the first inning when Sears hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Josh Silveira, after he had hit a double and taken third on a passed ball.
In the bottom of the inning, Anthony Scivola hit an infield single then Clesas blasted a 2-run home run over the right field wall and gave the Panthers a 2-1 edge.
“Zach’s always a contact hitter and he gets the ball in play a lot,” Acciardo said.
“This is the first time this season that we’ve been taking advantage of the short porch in right field,” Acciardo added. “Typically, we’re always keeping everything here and everybody else is putting it there, so that’s the second or third home run in two games on that right field hill. So, maybe we can take advantage of it more.”
Johnston added another run in the bottom of the second when catcher Dave Iannuccilli scored from third after an error at first base during a double play attempt, putting the Panthers up 3-1.
In the top of the third, East Providence got a run on an RBI single from Zach Fanara and pulled within 3-2.
Johnston got the run back in the bottom of the third when Alex Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly to score Clesas, making it 4-2.
East Providence inched closer when Cole Poissant drove in Sears from third with a ground ball in the top of the fourth.
Then, in the top of the fifth, East Providence put up the five-spot. Loffredo gave up two singles and a walk to start the inning and then Silveira hit an RBI single to bring home a run, tying the game at 4. With the bases reloaded, Sears hammered a shot off the fence in right for a two-run double, putting East Providence up 6-4. Then, Seth Daly followed that with a two-run single and made it 8-4.
“This is a seven-inning game,” Acciardo said. “We’ve got to stay focused for seven innings. We were up a little bit for a little while and you’ve got to finish. That’s the thing. You can’t ever let your guard down. You’re playing Division I baseball and they’re a good team and they showed it. They capitalized on things and they got their hits when they needed it. And when we had our opportunities we didn’t finish.”
East Providence improves to 6-2 with the victory while Johnston falls to 3-5.
The Panthers played Hendricken at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, but the score was unavailable at press time.