WOOD RIVER JCT. — Only a year ago, Division II-South rivals Westerly and Chariho produced five baseball games played at the highest level.
Chariho edged the Bulldogs 3-1 early during its regular-season title run. Westerly staged a seventh-inning rally to edge the Chargers 4-3 on Joey Baldini’s two-out, two-run double in the rematch.
In the state playoff semifinals, Westerly trimmed Chariho in an exciting three-game series, 2 games to 1.
In their first 2014 meeting Thursday, however, the string of classic baseball ended abruptly. Westerly capitalized on Chariho wild pitching to score 10 first-inning runs and then hung on despite its own sloppy play to post a 13-9 victory.
“I think both of us played like we set baseball back years,” Westerly coach Bob Cahoone said. “You get these types of games sometimes early on. Last year we played five nail-biters with them, but today Chariho’s starting pitching didn’t have it and it was a sloppy game on both ends.”
Westerly (3-2-1, 2-2 Division II-South) made four errors and collected just six hits as it capitalized on seven walks and four hit batsmen. But the Bulldogs will take the win, especially one day after its 5-4 walkoff loss to West Warwick, which scored three runs after the first two batters were retired in the bottom of the seventh to win it.
“The best thing to happen to us was having a game right after that tough loss,” Cahoone said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we took care of what we had to today.”
Because of bad luck with rainouts, Chariho (1-2, 1-2 Division II South) hasn’t played a lot of baseball to date for first-year coach Andy Devereaux. The new skipper hasn’t had an opportunity to test his new pitching staff. Last season, seniors accounted for 18 of Chariho’s 20 wins.
Charger starter Zach Classey, who won Chariho’s opener April 1 with five strong innings of work, did not respond to the long layoff Thursday. The right-hander walked Westerly’s first two batters and hit the next two to force in the first of 10 first-inning runs.
Winning pitcher Jake Garro and Kyle Gencarelli each singled home a run in the opening frame. Cam Newell singled home two runs and Anthony Garro delivered a sacrifice fly. The Bulldogs walked five times, got hit twice and took advantage of one Chariho error in the early uprising.
“Zach usually pounds the strike zone,” Devereaux said. “It’s tough getting in that deep of a hole, but I’m happy with the way we battled back. Unfortunately it was too deep of a hole.”
Chariho got back three runs apiece in the first and third innings to make it 10-6.
In the first, Alex Tefft’s RBI single and Chris Edgerly’s sacrifice fly plated runs. In the second, the Chargers took advantage of three Westerly errors to score three unearned runs off winning pitcher Jake Garro.
While Tefft, who came on in relief with one out in the first, kept the Chargers in the game, Garro pitched well enough in five innings to get the win and keep the Chargers from sneaking closer. Westerly added two runs in the third to make it 12-6 on two infield ground outs.
Brenton Rayner doubled to lead off the fourth and scored from second base after Bryce Lombardo’s bunt single was thrown away for a 13-6 lead.
Chariho’s Kyle Kirby singled home a run and Tefft added a sacrifice fly in the Chargers’ three-run sixth to make it 13-9.
Anthony Garro pitched a scoreless seventh for the Bulldogs, striking out two to end the game.
For Westerly, Kyle Allen walked three times in the leadoff spot and scored three runs. Gencarelli scored two runs from the No. 2 spot in the order. Rayner was the only Bulldog to collect two hits.
For Chariho, Kirby (2-for-3) was the only multiple-hit batter. Jake Blaylock scored two runs from the leadoff slot, and Zac Kittell scored three runs from the second spot in the order.
Tefft, who pitched just six innings as a junior last year, gave Devereaux a silver lining to this loss, allowing just three earned runs in 6 2-3 innings of relief.
“I knew Alex had this type of pitching performance in him,” Devereaux said. “He’s solid at third base, but we need pitching and today’s effort should earn him a few more starts.”
Cahoone gave a recommendation to Devereaux, who took over for Dave Cunningham, who stepped down after Chariho’s 20-win season last year to concentrate on a new job.
“I coached Andy in American Legion baseball a few years back,” Cahoone said.
“He’s a high-character person and a has good baseball mind.”
Westerly returns to action 4:15 p.m. Monday to play Mt. Hope at Cimalore Field. Chariho plays 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at West Warwick.