WESTERLY — If you called Westerly High senior Anthony Garro a singles hitter, you’d be literally correct but figuratively wrong.
A “singles hitter” in baseball is a label for a slap swinger who might get on base with a bunt, dribbler or bloop or there but is not a feared hitter nor generally a big run producer.
Garro has produced 23 hits on his way to a solid .348 batting average. None of those hits, however, have gone for extra bases.
But Garro has produced runs as much as any long-ball masher. With his 23 singles, Garro leads Westerly with 26 RBIs. Saturday in the Division II playoffs against Chariho, Garro gave a slice of 2014 seasonal life. He delivered a pair of two-out singles to drive in three runs, including the fifth and sixth runs to break a 4-4 tie in the fourth inning of the Bulldogs’ 6-5 victory over the Chariho High in a Region II losers’ bracket game.
Westerly (16-5-1) plays Monday against Saturday’s Ponaganset at Cimalore Field in another elimination game for the loser. That winner will need to twice beat Central to advance to a semifinal series.
Central is the only unbeaten team in the region after beating Ponaganset 8-3 on Saturday.
Chariho finished its season at 10-9, including an 0-3 mark against Westerly.
“My two hits today have followed the approach I’ve shown all season,” Garro said. “(Batting coach JJ) Sorensen has been working with me to stay back and drive the ball to the opposite field in right. I may not have the extra base hits, but I can’t complain about 26 RBIs.”
Since 1998, only Greg Murano (29 RBIs in 1998) and Brandon Ford (26 in 2011) have driven in more runs than Garro.
“Garro comes through in the clutch for us,” Westerly coach Bob Cahoone said. “I tweaked the lineup a bit and moved him from fifth to clean up. We cashed in with two-out, run-scoring hits today, and we needed it because we did not play good defense.”
Two of Westerly’s five errors came in the first inning and helped Chariho jump to a 4-0 lead off Westerly starting pitcher Jake Garro.
Kyle Kirby (3 for 3, two runs scored) delivered the only hit for the Chargers in the inning.
“I felt we should have had more in the first inning,” Chariho coach Andy Devereaux said. “The tale of the game was Westerly scoring every run with two outs and us not being able to get the key hit with two out. We didn’t score a run with two outs today.”
Westerly pecked away with one run each in the first and second innings, and two apiece in the third and fourth innings.
The Bulldogs did not play small ball. Taking advantage of a strong winding blowing out to right field, Cam Newell, a right-handed batter, homered over the fence in right in the first inning to make it 4-1.
In the second inning, Joey Baldini, another right-hander, golfed another solo shot, well over the fence in right to make it 4-2. In between homers, Chariho left the bases loaded in the second inning.
Westerly tied it in the third when Kyle Allen singled and scored on a double by Newell (2 for 4, 2 RBIs, two runs). Garro singled home Newell.
In Westerly’s fourth, Justin Algiere singled with one out and Bryce Lombardo walked with two outs.
Chariho pitcher Jake Classey hit Newell to load the bases, and Garro made him pay with a line drive to right to score the go-ahead runs.
“I thought Zach pitched a good game,” Devereaux said. “He threw strikes and I tip my cap to him. You have to remember we came into this season with no varsity pitchers.
“Most of the teams we play have one or two aces. We may have some coming up in the program, but for us to win 10 games with a new pitching staff, it’s a pretty good season.”
Chariho cut the Westerly lead to 6-5, with a run in the sixth. Kirby walked, moved to second and third on passed balls and scored on a wild pitch.
The potential tying run was doubled off second base when Garro, playing right field, caught Darren Thibeault’s line drive and threw to second for an easy double play to get reliever Brenton Rayner out of the inning.
Jake Garro pitched five innings to get the win. Rayner, who took the loss in relief in the playoff opener against Central Thursday, pitched two innings for the save and had an easy seventh with two strikeouts.
“I admire the way Jake battled today,” Cahoone said. “We didn’t help him out with our defense in the first and the umpire had a different strike zone than the low one we usually see. Jake had to adjust to the umpire’s higher strike zone today. It wasn’t easy by any means today, but at this point it’s survive and advance and we survived.”