WRENTHAM, Mass. – With King Philip leading by a run and two outs in the fourth inning, Chris Wing, who was making his first start and just second appearance of the season, walked his second North Quincy hitter of the game to load the bases.
The Warriors were struggling at the plate against North Quincy starter Shawn Kelly, so KP coach Pat Weir decided it was time to go to the bullpen. He brought in senior Jake Cavanagh, who promptly induced a comebacker to end the inning and escape the jam.
“I did it in the Mansfield game, similar situation, game was on the line, runners in scoring position,” said Weir about making the pitching change. “He’s absolutely emotionless on the mound. I know he’s going to get it done.”
KP added three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break the game open and managed to pull out a 5-1 victory over the Red Raiders, despite managing only four hits (three of them infield hits) and hitting two balls out of the infield.
“Absolutely a day to put behind us,” said Weir. “That’s the funny thing about the game of baseball, you’re always going to have one of these days. I’m actually proud of the way they were able to battle through and fight through it and still come away with the victory.
“It was kind of a sub-par performance from a baseball perspective but I’m proud of the way they were able to grind it out.”
What the Warriors lacked in pop at the plate they made up for with aggressiveness on the basepaths. KP finished with eight stolen bases and also advanced on four wild pitches.
Although they also were thrown out trying to take second on a ball four that went to the backstop and trying to come home on contact against a drawn in infield, Weir will play the percentages and stick with the aggression.
“A lot of times we’re going to make those outs at home or at second base but that’s just the way we play,” he explained. “A lot of times you apply the pressure to the defense and a lot of time you have them make mistakes.
“We’re not going to change. It’s aggressive baseball and that’s our style here at King Philip.”
The Warriors took the lead in the bottom of the second. Jack DiCenso led-off the inning with a walk, one of six free passes issued by Kelly, and Jake Lannigan was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch moved both into scoring position for Ryan Guennette, who line a single to left scoring one.
Guennette stole second and Wing was also hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lead-off hitter Stephan MacMeans grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Lannigan with the second run.
Wing cruised through the first two innings with four groundouts and a strikeout in the first six hitters. In the third he allowed a pair of singles, but a 6-4-3 double play (Will Weir to Guennette to DiCenso) ended the inning.
In the fourth, North Quincy out together a rally. A one-out walk got it started, followed by a double to left that put two in scoring position. Matt McDonald grounded to third and Lannigan tried to get the lead runner at the plate but Nolan Bradley’s tag was not in time and the Raiders were on the board.
Wing struck out the next hitter for the second out, but then walked Tommy Kelly to load the bases and the coach called for Cavanagh.
“With the non-league game and four games this week, I took it as an opportunity to try and get [Chris] some reps,” said Weir. “He did well and in the fourth inning he got himself into a little jam but then you’ve got the senior leadership coming in, Jake Cavanagh.”
The Warriors were still scuffling at the plate, but in the fifth they put the game away. Ryan Coulter started the inning with a swinging bunt that he beat out for an infield hit, one of two for him in the game. Cavanagh drew a walk and both moved up on MacMeans’ two-strike sacrifice bunt.
Kyle Guenthner grounded to third and the throw to the plate was judged to have beaten Coulter, although it did not appear that the catcher had actually made the tag. Kelly threw a wild pitch and that brought Cavanagh home and Guenthner stole third. Will Weir walked and managed to get himself into a rundown that allowed Guenthner to score before diving back into first safely.
Weir then stole second and third. He would score on another wild pitch to make it 5-1. Three runs for the Warriors with only one hit that did not get past the mound.
Pat Weir joked, “We scored four runs that inning and we had an infield dribbler for a base hit?”
Cavanagh shut down North Quincy. He threw 3-1/3 innings of one-hit relief and struck out two in each of the final two innings.
Weir said, “He got stronger as the game went along. You could see it in that last inning he was bringing it pretty hard. He’s a kid I can alway rely on and lean on.”
It was an ugly win, but it counts. Weir said with a laugh, “We’re not going to look back on how it was a win, but I’ll take the ‘W’ anytime I can.”
KP (12-1, 10-1) will be right back on the diamond on Friday with a non-league game at Sharon.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.