By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – The Plainville boys baseball team was one strike away from keeping its non-conference encounter on Saturday, April 6 against St. Paul a 1-0 affair in what would have been a major setback for the Falcons.
With the Blue Devils leading by that solitary run going into the sixth stanza, the squad needed just one more strike from Plainville relief pitcher Tyler Favreau to end the threat.
But two straight bases-loaded walks gave St. Paul the lead for good, turning the game into a 2-1 push in the visitors’ favor, and the Falcons tacked on several more runs after that to get past the Blue Devils 9-2 from Alumni Field in Plainville.
Frankly, it was a game up for grabs throughout the afternoon as Plainville (0-2) had done an amazing job slowing down St. Paul’s offense over the first five frames to make life for the visitors miserable.
However, the Blue Devils only managed five total hits in the games and when a couple late tallies were needed, Plainville came up a little short at the plate.
“We didn’t get the two-out hits,” said Plainville coach Lou Mandeville. “We’re at the part of the game, we’re up 1-0, we left guys on base and we didn’t get the two-out hits. When you don’t get that done, you just leave the team hanging around. We leave them hanging around and you give the other team a chance and comeback.”
“I thought the two-out hits we didn’t get in the early innings, I should say up until the fourth inning, didn’t help.”
And once the game got away, it began to unravel quickly as a one-run lead became a three-run deficit and later, the Blue Devils trailed by seven.
It was a hole Plainville could not dig out of and if the Blue Devils could have made a critical out or two down the stretch, some of the bleeding could have been stopped much earlier during the fray.
“You’ve got to make a play,” said Mandeville. “We got down when (St. Paul) started scoring runs and we didn’t make a play. You’re asking a pitcher to get more outs for you and that’s not the way baseball is supposed to be played because it becomes a long day.”
It wasn’t all bad as Plainville pitcher Brian Dostaler (5.1 IP, 7 hits, 2 BBs 3 Ks) battled and battled over his five-plus innings of work and held the fort together as long as he could.
He gave up three earned runs but showed toughness and guile over his appearance and turned several jams into big outs as the Blue Devils maintained its one-run lead for most of the game.
Tyler Pina led Plainville with two hits while Favreau added a single and two RBI.
Dostaler also added a single and Marc DeMartinis had a hit and added two scored runs.
But The St. Paul offense certainly did its part – pasting together a season high 14 hits – while on the mound for the Falcons, Jared Valois was simply outstanding.
He gave up just two runs and spaced five hits over a complete game effort.
At one point, Valois retired 10 straight batters and showed plenty of poise during his starting appearance.
Valois struck out two while walking just one and even as Plainville notched a couple key runs in the game, the chucker for the visitors just made big pitch after big pitch. Everybody got into the grove offensively as Josh Dobratz (3-of-4, 1 BB, 3 RBI) and the nifty Kyle Dube (2-for-3, 2 BBs) led a very potent attack from the plate.
But the biggest hit of the day came by the hands of Emilio Santiago in the final inning of play.
With the visitors in front by two runs and the bases loaded, Santiago unleashed a long double to right field as his only hit produced three RBI and insurance tallies that made it a 7-2 tilt in St. Paul’s favor.
Two runs later, the Falcons went ahead 9-2 and never looked back.
However, the game was far from a runaway as Plainville controlled the first five innings of the afternoon.
The game was a scoreless affair going into the second frame but a critical gaff in the outfield started a chain of events that led to the Blue Devils first run of the afternoon.
Marc DeMartinis slammed a fly-ball into left but it was misplayed as the first runner of the inning was safely on-base.
Pina followed up with a one-hopper to right to put two runners on at first and third with no outs and the Blue Devils were in business.
Favreau followed up with another fly to left and even as it was caught for the first out of the stanza, DeMartinis crossed home plate as the sacrifice made it a 1-0 game.
And that score stayed true into the sixth frame as St. Paul – having chances to break things open but never getting a runner across as it stranded 12 on base in the game – finally turned the tide of the contest.
Dostaler was still on the mound when the Falcons opened the inning with a single to left from Tristan Petit, a fielder’s choice by A.J. Lorenzetti, a slick infield hit from Kyle MacLean and a walk to Troy Micale loaded up the bases with one out.
Dostaler was lifted in favor of closer Favreau and the senior chucker got pinch hitter Ben Mazzone out on strikes for the second out of the frame and battled Matt Santovasi to a full count, one strike away from keeping it a 1-0 game in Plainville’s favor.
But the last pitch was called a ball as Santovasi’s base-on-balls forced in a run, and the game was quickly tied at 1-1.
“You’ve got to make them (St. Paul) swing the bat,” said Mandeville. “I think when they got the bases loaded with one out, I didn’t even think they were swinging. It didn’t look like they wanted to swing the bat. They were making us throw strikes and we didn’t throw strikes and then (Josh Dobratz later) got the big hit right up the middle.”
One batter later, Favreau was in another battle with Santiago and off another full count, ball four was called as another runner crossed the plate and the Blue Devils were suddenly trailing 2-1.
With the bases still juiced, Dobratz slammed a sharp single into right as two runners scored and St. Paul ended the stanza with a comfortable 4-1 edge.
However, Plainville still had one last run in it before things were said and done.
With two outs in the sixth, Marc DeMartinis drilled a hit to center, Tyler Pina plunked a short shot into left and with ducks in the pond and the tying run at the plate, Favreau smashed an RBI single into center and the deficit was chopped to 4-2 with Plainville still threatening.
But with the batter at the plate signaling the go-ahead run, Valois got Mike Munson to fly out to center as the Falcons held its two run lead going into the final inning.
Off Santiago’s three RBI double to make it a five-run game, Dobratz sent a bloop RBI single into center and two plays later, an infield throwing error plated Dube and propelled the visitors to a 9-2 cushion with one last set of outs for the Blue Devils to try to mount a comeback.
But even as St. Paul dropped a ball in centerfield that started a Plainville rally, Cody Charneski hit into a 6-4-3 double play and one pop-out later, St. Paul moved to 3-0 on the season with a big seven-run win in Plainville.
“The two-out hits, they win ballgames for you,” said Mandeville. “You pitch, you play defense but those two out hits are huge.”