Baseball wins fifth straight in home opener
The University of Rhode Island baseball team (7-11) won its home opener 8-4 yesterday against SUNY-Stony Brook. The win marks the Rams' fifth consecutive victory.
"It's good to be home and to get a quality win versus a quality opponent," Rhode Island coach Jim Foster said.
Last season Stony Brook finished the year 52-15; the Seawolves won the American East Conference tournament and defeated the University of Miami 10-2 in the first round of the College World Series.
The Rams came out yesterday ready to play. With one out in the first inning senior Kevin Stenhouse ripped a three-run double down the right field line to give the Rams an early lead. Stenhouse then stole third and scored on an infield groundout from senior Pat Fortunato.
In the second inning sophomore Tim Caputo drove in senior Chris Famiglietti to push the Rams' lead to 5-0. Famiglietti had his first multi-steal game of the season swiping two of the Rams four stolen bases in the game.
Junior Milan Mantle picked up his first win of the season throwing five shutout innings for Rhody. Mantle allowed three hits and struck out three batters on the day.
After Mantle, the Rams used four different pitchers over four innings to end the game, which is common when playing mid-week games.
"Getting contributions from different guys is important," Foster said. "It's important to keep guys arm fresh and strong, you don't want to overwork anyone."
The Rams were shutout until the bottom of the eighth inning when senior Mike LeBel singled to score Caputo. Freshman Chase Livingston came in to pinch hit for freshman Connor Foreman with men on second and third. Livingston got a base knock up the middle to score both runners and increase the lead 8-2.
Despite allowing two runs via fielding errors, junior Tyler Bowditch was able to keep the damage to a minimum and seal an 8-4 Rhody win.
The word around the dugout and after games for the team is improvement. Improving every game, every inning and every at-bat is important in this early part of the season.
"We're starting to put everything together." Stenhouse said. "The pitching and hitting is there and the short game is started to come around as well."
Foster has built a solid baseball program dependent on pitching, speed and solid defense, Foster calls it the "short game" and the short game comes in handy when the offense is struggling or when facing a dominant pitcher.
"Hitting comes and goes," Foster said "Some days you're swinging the bat well the some days you're not. You can't let a guy take the mound and dominate you for five or six innings - you need to get on base and manufacture runs."
Foster admits that he likes the way his team is playing but that there is room for improvement especially in the short game aspect.
"I would grade our short game a C+ right now." Foster said. "It is something we can do better and it is the way we're built to win, but like everything else we'll continue to work on it and improve it every day."
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