Tanous sparks Rhode Island outburst
A closer look at the Barrington, Rhode Island 6-1 win over Bowling Green, Kentucky, Saturday at Lamade Stadium:
PLAY OF THE GAME: Rhode Island has received a major boost from its reserves all summer and the bench again came up big. After Alex Anderson hit a leadoff single, Miles Fontaine slammed a pinch-hit, RBI double into left field which put Rhode Island ahead to stay. A team which went 9 1/3 innings at the Series before collecting its first hit, built on the momentum and scored three more times to break open the game. Like it did a week ago in a New England championship win against New Hampshire, the Rhode Island reserves ignited the game’s pivotal rally with Blake Dolan hitting a pinch-hit single a batter later. Those four reserves combined to go 3 for 5 with walk, RBI and three runs scored.
KENTUCKY PLAYER OF THE GAME: Right fielder Jameson Napper reached base twice, going 1 for 2 with a run. Napper hit a sixth-inning single and ignited a fourth-inning rally with a walk before scoring on Luke Idlett’s RBI single.
RHODE ISLAND PLAYER OF THE GAME: Slick-fielding first baseman Lucas Tanous broke the ice for Rhode Island when he produced its first Series hit, belting a one-out, third-inning double. Rhode Island kept building from there and Tanous finished 3 for 4 with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs. Pfeffer also retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced with the only runners during that time reaching on an error.
BIG INNING: The New England champions quickly stifled any momentum Kentucky had after it had tied the game in the top of the fourth. Rhode Island scored four times, delivered four hits and took a 5-1 lead. Tanous hit his second double in as many innings, driving in two runs and capping the flurry.
BEST EFFORT: The bigger the stage, the better Owen Pfeffer pitches. A week ago he threw a complete game against previously undefeated New Hampshire. Yesterday, Pfeffer was brilliant, pitching the game of his life. The crafty left-hander threw a complete game two-hitter and threw just 72 pitches. Pfeffer struck out seven and needed eight or fewer pitches to retire Kentucky in order three times.
FLASHING LEATHER: Kentucky pitcher William Alexander helped his own cause when he closed the inning with a nifty play. Alexander sprinted from the mound to field a Pfeffer slow roller, then wheeled and made a rocket throw to first that beat Pfeffer to first and completed a perfect first inning.
Rhode Island shortstop Cullen Crain made the kind of play that makes Major Leaguers envious when he somehow robbed Whitt Glosick of a third-inning leadoff single. Crain ran all the way into shallow center field, extended his body as far as it could go and made a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it catch for the inning’s first out.
Kentucky first baseman Chaze Huff saved a run with a tremendous stop on a Crain grounder hit down the line. Crain’s grounder scored Lucas Tanous from third but prevented Pfeffer from scoring and kept the score 1-0.
WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “They have great resolve and they battled all the way to the end,” Rhode Island manager Chris Promades said. “It was a great example of how it takes all 13 players top to bottom to contribute to the overall success of the team.”
WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “It’s like once somebody gets a hit on our team it’s very contagious. Everyone starts getting hits and we start scoring runs and our bench gets really hyped,” Fontaine said. “I felt like he left a curveball hanging to me and I just ripped it down the line and that got everybody excited and then it just kept rolling.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Rhode Island is guaranteed a top 6 finish at the Series and will play the loser of today’s New Jersey/Hawaii game in another elimination contest Monday. Kentucky was eliminated from title contention, but still can end its remarkable summer-long run with a victory if it defeats Australia in Monday’s consolation game.