WESTERLY — Sophomore Drew Champagne pitched 5⅔ strong innings and junior catcher Peter Fernholz redeemed himself at the plate with a fourth-inning base hit to lead Stonington High over Westerly High, 5-1, on Saturday night in an interstate rivalry baseball game at Cimalore Field.
Champagne dealt with base runners all night, but he managed to strand 12 and only gave up a single run.
Junior Josh Fields relieved Champagne with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. He induced a popout to second base to end the threat, and retired Westerly in order in the seventh, to earn a four-out save.
“Drew threw the ball well,” Stonington coach Bob Cahoone said. “He really mixed up his pitches, and defensively, that's the best we've played all year.”
Champagne gave up seven hits and walked four, but only allowed one extra-base hit.
“I was just trying to keep the ball low and away, and make it hard for them to get solid contact,” he said. “I have good fielders behind me, and I can trust them.”
Stonington (8-10) got all the runs it would need in the fourth inning. In the second, Fernholz hit a hard grounder, but right at the shortstop, for a double play with the bases loaded.
Facing the same situation in the fourth, Fernholz instead lofted an 0-2 pitch into left field, over the shortstop's head, to drive in two runs.
“He hit the ball hard right on the button [in the second], but I said, 'Hey, you've got to let it go. You'll get another chance,'” Cahoone said. “We left a lot of people on in the first two innings, but we were getting people on base and that put the pressure on them.”
Still in the fourth, Bob Dimock drew a walk to reload the bases. Jake Verbridge then plated the inning's third and final run with a sharply hit ball to shortstop, with the only play available a force-out at second.
Stonington made it 4-0 in the fifth, with Nakhi Snyder doubling to right field with two outs. He scored on a flare to right field by Dorian White.
The Bears got their fifth and final run in the sixth. Sam Casadei went opposite field on a 2-1 pitch for a single to right. He stole second base and moved to third on an error on a ball hit by Champagne. Snyder and White both drew walks to force Casadei in, with White picking up the RBI.
Westerly (9-5) put runners on base in every inning against Champagne, but only scored one in the fifth.
Zach Beckler finished 4 for 4, and started the fifth with a single to the outfield, and advanced to second on an error. He moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Tom Algier, and scored on a single by Matt Brissette.
Brissette would move up to second on a single by Spencer Bernat, but both would be stranded after Champagne bore down and got a strikeout to end the inning.
Asked about his approach with runners on, Champagne said, “I try to ignore them. I try to focus on playing catch with Peter [Fernholz] and to focus on the batter.”
Westerly coach Ron Sposato said his team struggled to get that one hit on Saturday, and got behind in the count too much despite getting hits and men on base.
“We had base runners in position and the guys we wanted up, but we just couldn't get that hit and we'll have to do a better job next week,” he said. “We weren't attacking in a favorable count. We were letting that second strike go by, and getting too far into the count. When we had two strikes, we weren't the same team hitting.”
Both teams return to action on Tuesday. Stonington hosts Montville at 4 p.m., and Westerly hosts Scituate also at 4 p.m.