The visiting No. 6 Chariho baseball team held off No. 2 Johnston 3-1 in the Division II Quarterfinals last Saturday at War Memorial Park to end the Panthers’ season.
Down 3-1, the Panthers had a chance to do some damage when they loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs. However, Chariho’s third basemen would scoop up a hard grounder and make the tough throw to first to end the game.
The Panthers had multiple opportunities to add runs throughout the contest, but the Chariho defense made a handful of big plays to stymie the Johnston offense.
“(Chariho) played great defense. The third basemen made a couple of great plays, the first baseman made a great play. In a different scenario, maybe that ball gets by (in the bottom of the seventh). You don’t want to play cautiously, but we wanted to keep things close and look to get runs here and there. But they made plays. You’ve got to give it to them. It was a big game and they made big plays,” said Johnston coach Joe Acciardo after the loss.
The game was scoreless through three innings but Chariho would take a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly.
The Panthers responded in the ensuing half inning with Dante Ricci knocked a run home to make it 1-1. Chariho would take the 3-1 lead in the fifth inning on a Johnston throwing error and a sacrifice groundout.
Cam Salois led the way for Johnston at the plate going 2-for-4. Jeremy Urena pitched five innings for the Panthers, allowing just one earned run on six hits while striking out six batters. Salois pitched two innings in relief and allowed no runs while striking out two batters.
“They hit in bunches. Whatever their secret is, they’ve made it work. We had Jeremy pitching and we always play better with him, but we have to put some runs up,” said Acciardo, who felt that his team’s late season hitting woes were costly down the stretch. “The last few games, we weren’t hitting like we were earlier in the season. Sometimes we sputtered, it is what it is. At the end, only one team is going to feel good at the end of the season. They were there, gave it a shot and just came up a little short.”
The Panthers finished the season with a 15-5 overall record and a 14-4 league record. They are set to lose two key guys in Urena and Salois and will be looking for some of the younger kids to step up next spring.
“You can’t make up for (the loss) of a guy like Jeremy. Some guys are going to have to step up. Fortunately, these guys made it here and saw what they have to do,” Acciardo said. “They just have to learn from it and get better. They can’t feel bad for themselves because no one else is going to. They need to step up because they have to.”
The Panthers did pick up a 6-2 win over North Providence in the preliminary round. Salois and Joseph Silvia each recorded two RBI while Davian Nunez and Derek Salvatore knocked in runs as well. Urena pitched all seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out 11 batters.
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