EAST PROVIDENCE — When Chariho High’s Ben Harrison threw a two-hitter and struck on 13 in a Division II baseball tournament win against Prout on Wednesday, it was pretty obvious that would likely be the team’s best pitching performance of the postseason.
Not so fast. Meet Sean Sposato.
Sposato, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound, hard-throwing right-hander, carried a no-hitter into the final inning before finishing with a one-hitter in the Chargers’ 7-0 win against Mt. Hope in a Division II regional game on Thursday at Pierce Field.
It was his first high school start.
Sposato, who struck out five and walked just two, gave up his only hit — a sharp single to right-center field — with one out in the seventh. A strikeout and a groundout after that ended the game.
The two teams will meet Saturday at Pierce Field at 6 p.m. in a game to decide the regional title and a spot in the D-II title series, which starts Monday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.
Sposato’s success starts with one theme.
“I try to keep [the ball] down. When you leave it high, things start to go bad,” Sposato, a junior, said. “A groundball is what we want, and keeping it low really does that for you.”
After walking the second batter of the game, Sposato retired the next 16 in order before issuing another walk in the sixth. He only allowed three baserunners.
Sposato said he felt good from the beginning of the game.
What pitches were working?
“My fastball, obviously, but my changeup, I felt confident throwing it,” Sposato said. “My curveball was all right, but I threw it for strikes when I needed to.”
Catcher Cam Anderson said Sposato was able to get ahead in the count.
“Sean throws it really hard, and he got a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Anderson said. “He got ahead early, and we made the plays when we needed to.”
Chariho coach Andy Devereaux said he wanted to give the Huskies a different look after they faced Dylan LaBelle on Sunday. Mt. Hope won that game, 5-3.
“We knew Sean was a good pitcher. Earlier in the season, he was dealing with some elbow soreness and things like that,” Devereaux said. “We didn’t want to affect his arm and ruin his season.
“He was just commanding. He was really challenging with the fastball. He was hitting the corners and mixing in his curveball when he wanted to.”
Top-seeded Chariho (19-4) turned in a number of quality defensive plays when the no-hitter was still in play. Shortstop Dan LaBelle made a leaping grab of a line drive in the fifth inning, and left fielder Luke Elson followed with a fine running catch coming in on the ball later in the inning.
In the sixth, Harrison made a good play at third base to reach a slow roller, and first baseman Ethan Blanchard stretched to grab his throw. Sposato, who was 3 for 4 at the plate, lunged to snare a hard-hit, high one-hopper later in the sixth and threw to first for the out.
Zach Snow singled home Harrison (2 for 5) in the first inning. Harrison had opened the game with a double.
Chariho added four more runs in the third. Sposato drove in his run, and Luke Elson brought home a run with a bases-loaded walk. Fourth-seeded Mt. Hope (15-6) committed two infield errors, and two of the runs in the inning were unearned.
LaBelle (3 for 4) singled in a run in the sixth, and Anderson (2 for 3) brought in another with a sacrifice fly. Chariho finished with 13 hits and three sacrifices.
“We were pretty dialed in today, all over the place,” Devereaux said. “We were moving runners, setting the table and driving them in, which is awesome to see.”