WRENTHAM, Mass. — Having not played an actual game in two weeks, it was fair to wonder if the King Philip baseball team would show any signs of rust in its playoff opener against Agawam.
The third-seeded Warriors quickly erased that notion with some early offense and cruised to a comfortable 12-1 win over the 35th-seeded Brownies in a Division 2 Round of 32 clash at Lombard Field.
KP pushed across three runs in the first inning, created a big lead with five more runs in the second, and reached double digits with a pair in the third.
Meanwhile, senior ace Rudy Gately worked around some early threats from Agawam, stranding runners at second and third in the first inning with one out, and then again in the second inning after allowing back-to-back hits to lead off. Gately earned the win, striking out six with four hits and one walk allowed in three innings.
“Having two weeks, we really tried to stay fresh at practice,” said King Philip head coach Jeff Plympton. “We brought some past guys in and had our own guys throw live, so I was happy with how the bats responded today. I think that was one of the better hitting performances we’ve had this year. It was good to get all those guys, all those arms in, and get them an inning.”
KP’s big lead allowed Plympton to get Gately out with under 65 pitches thrown. It also set the stage for four KP relievers to get an inning in relief: sophomore Nate Pennini struck out one and had one walk, junior Tommy McLeish was charged with an unearned run and had one strikeout, junior TJ Ahern only needed six pitches to get through a quick sixth inning, and junior Ian Knott struck out one in a scoreless seventh inning. Freshman Leo Dowling caught all seven innings for KP.
“We have depth, and we were throwing them in practice but it’s better to get them in live game situations,” Plympton said. “To be able to get Rudy out of this one, you know if we go on a run here, having him at 60 pitches in the first game is fantastic.”
Junior Max Robison set the table with a leadoff walk and senior Matt Kelley dropped a one-out single into shallow center to put a second runner on. Senior Tommy Martorano sliced an opposite field double that just fell fair for a two-run double to get the Warriors on the board. Sophomore Aiden Astorino followed with a dribbler that got by the pitcher, and Martorano scampered all the way home to make it 3-0.
A leadoff double from McLeish started things for KP in the second inning, and sophomore Cameron Hasenfus (walk) and Robison (singled) both reached to load the bases.
Senior Brendan Sencaj had a bloop single drop into shallow left to bring McLeish in but Hasenfus was tagged out at third after having to wait halfway. Kelley lined an RBI double for another run and sophomore Drew Herlin smashed a monster double to right to score two more. After advancing on a passed ball, Herlin scored on Martorano’s sac fly to center to make it 8-0 after just two innings.
“We have a good lineup, and some games it would flash and some games it wouldn’t but today, it all clicked together and it’s infectious,” Plympton said. “I think that playoff run last year really helps, and the familiarity of being in this situation. They are a confident bunch. We had a really good practice yesterday, probably the best of the season, which is good because of the long break since our last game.”
Gately worked around a one-out double in the third, getting his sixth strikeout to end the inning. KP kept the momentum going in the bottom half when Hasenfus brought Gately (walk) home with a sac fly, and Robison’s RBI ground out plated McLeish (single) to make it 10-0.
Pennini recorded an RBI with an infield single that scored Martorano in the fourth inning, and Ahern reached on an error that allowed Herlin (walk) to come home to make it 12-1.
King Philip baseball (14-7) will meet a familiar foe in the Round of 16 as the Warriors will host Hockomock rival North Attleboro (8-13) on Wednesday at 3:45. The 19th-seeded Rocketeers upset #14 Duxbury, 2-1, on Monday.