ROWLEY — The second-seeded Rowley Rams began their quest to notch their second Intertown League championship in three years in fine form at Eiras Park yesterday by taking down third-seeded Beverly, 10-1.
“The goal we set at the beginning of the year was to be a championship-type team,” said Rams’ coach Jeff Wood. “We have not accomplished that goal yet. We’ve only won this one playoff game. It’s exciting, we won in good fashion, but there is another game tomorrow night. Beverly is a really good baseball team.”
Mike “Scorpio” Sloban took the ball for the Rams in the top of the first inning and would take down the Giants 1-2-3 before Josh Levesque toed the mound for Beverly in the bottom of the frame.
But the Rams would not be as welcoming to Levesque, as Joe Esposito drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a grounder from CJ Ingraham. One batter later, Koby Thibault scampered to first on a dropped third strike that saw Esposito crossing the plate to give the Rams their first run of the day.
Pat Doyle hit a blooper that died in front of third base with one out in the top of the second inning. But Thibault came rushing in and made a perfect throw to first to catch Doyle, and Esposito made a diving catch in center to rob Levesque of a hit and send Rowley back to the plate.
Justin Bolla drew a walk to start the bottom of the second inning then stole second base before Marco Luisi knocked a single to left field. Mike White then loaded the bases with a bunt single. Nick Liguori would go down swinging before Esposito stepped to the plate then stepped back on a passed ball that saw Bolla plating the Rams’ second run.
Esposito then laced a single up the third base line that scored Luisi. Ingraham was hit by a pitch next before Thibault scored three runs with a double to deep centerfield. An error by John Boyle at third saw Drew Carter reaching while moving Thibault to third and Bolla launched a double to the same place next to plate two more Rams before the bleeding stopped with the Rams up 8.
“We had that big inning in the second inning,” said Wood. “That’s what we try to do. That’s how we’re built. We strung a few hits together, took advantage of errors and ran the base paths. We did all of that in the second inning and we had a couple of guys driving the ball and before you know it, it is 8-0. It’s a different kind of game from there. That’s the way we like to play.”
Levesque would record his first 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fourth and Connor Walsh started the top of the fifth with a single then moved to second on a grounder from Boyle and on to third on a double from Levesque. Jeff Barricelli worked a full count next and launched a shot out to deep center that Esposito got right under and took care of to end the threat.
Sloban would give up a run on an Erik Drown RBI single in the top of the sixth before Hunt would pick up the same in the top of the frame and Ingraham scored on a passed ball to give the Rams two more runs.
Adam Newell took the ball for Rowley in the top of the seventh and closed out Beverly, 1-2-3.
Now facing elimination, the Giants will host the Rams at Balch Park tomorrow.
“I fell all right,” said Giants’ coach Jeff Barricelli. “Because I feel like we have enough pitching for the next two games. Josh Levesque saved the bullpen tonight and that’s big for a three-game series. We had one bad inning (today), but we only scored one run. It’s tough to win with only one run.”
Wood was delighted by Sloban’s performance to get his team started in the playoffs.
“Mike is a good pitcher,” Wood said of Sloban. “He stays around the plate. He doesn’t walk a lot of guys. He’s a really good situational pitcher. He gets a runner on second or third and he knows what to do and he executes. We always feel good about things when Mike is on the mound.”