Reinforcements arrived in time for the first game of the annual Pell Bridge Series, but they couldn't provide enough pop to get the Ocean State Waves a win. The Newport Gulls won the opener in the six-game season series 12-7 on Tuesday night at Old Mountain Field.
The Waves fell to 1-4 on the year, an unusual rough start for the two-time NECBL runners-up. They were thin on depth for the first few games of the season, though projected key players Cullen Smith, Elijah Dunham and Justin Walker arrived this week and made their debuts against the Gulls.
Pitching was the larger problem for the Waves on Tuesday as Newport raced out of the gates with three runs in the first inning and four in the second. Kyle O'Neill of Felician College was charged with four runs, while reliever Jake Walker was tagged for three.
The Waves worked their way back into the game with four runs in the third inning and three in the seventh, but Newport kept swinging, scoring two runs in the seventh and two in the eighth to pull away. Newport reliever Michael Sansone struck out five of the eight batters he faced to short-circuit any comeback hopes.
Both teams finished with 10 hits. The Waves got a two-run homer from Garrett Hodges, plus two RBI by Dunham in his first game. Back for a second summer in Wakefield, Smith had two hits and scored two runs in his debut.
Harris helps Waves to win in home opener
Winthrop's Thad Harris was part of last year's runner-up Ocean State team and is eager for more success this summer.
“We have a good core group of guys coming back,” Harris said. “We were banged up last year. We were bringing guys in who hadn’t played in two months and still made the championship. We built the team deep this year and we’ve got a lot of good dudes here. I think we should be really good again.”
Harris did his part in Thursday's home opener, drawing the start and allowing one earned run in four innings.
“Tonight was good,” Harris said. “First time on the mound in a live game in about a month. First time out, two runs, I’ll take it.”
Harris had a 6.15 ERA for the Waves last summer but won three of his last four outings. Harris moved into the starting rotation for Winthrop this spring and pitched to a 4.90 ERA.
“When I left last year, I didn’t know for sure if I would be back in Rhode Island or not,” he said. “But I’m glad to be back. Last year was definitely my most memorable summer, most fun summer. I’m happy to be back in Wakefield.”
Seven former Waves were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft last week.
Leading the list was Bryant's Ryan Ward, who was selected by the Dodgers in the eighth round. Teammate Chris Wright went in the 12th round to the San Francisco Giants. A third Bryant player who spent time in Wakefield, Jimmy Titus, was also selected by the Dodgers in the 22nd round.
Also drafted from the Waves were J.C. Keys (Cincinnati, 23rd round), Quincy McAfee (Cincinnati, 26th round), Mitchell Senger (Mets, 26th round), and L.T. Struble (Mets, 29th round).
“All those guys that came through here are great players but great people too and they really deserve the opportunity,” Waves manager Brian Kehew said. “I look forward to seeing their success.”