SOUTH KINGSTOWN — On his way to Old Mountain Field Tuesday night, Garrett Hodges heard Big Mountain’s 1994 version of Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way on the radio. In need of a little change in luck, he made it his walk-up music for the Ocean State Waves’ matchup with Mystic.
And ooh baby, he loved the way it turned things around.
Hodges knocked five hits and crushed a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning to cap a long and wild night of baseball, as the Waves outlasted Mystic 14-10 for their third consecutive win.
“I’ve been going with the same song that’s been with me a while,” Hodges said. “I was going through a little skid the past few games and I was like, ‘You know what?’ I heard the song on the radio coming here today and I said, ‘I’m going to change it right now.’ Went with a little 90s music tonight and it worked obviously.”
The streak has been much-needed after the team’s rough patch in late June and early July, which left them near the basement of the Southern Division standings. At 11-19 with 14 games remaining, the climb back to playoff contention may prove too steep: the Waves will have to stay hot and other teams will have to cool down. But they were having fun even in the skid, and they’ll keep doing so as they try to claw their way back into the race. Whether that involves more 90s pop songs or not, they’ll keep pushing.
“It’s tough because we were so close. It wasn’t like we were getting blown out every game,” Hodges said. “We’ve been so close. Everybody just wants to win. We want to be here. We’re having fun. We were having fun even when we were losing. It sounds crazy, but we were. It’s a great group of guys. We’re just battling through it and we’re having fun.”
The Waves had lost two straight close games – and 11 of 13 games overall – before breaking through with a 9-4 win over New Bedford on Saturday. They followed that with a 4-0 shutout at Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, a strong piece of evidence that potential still remains.
Tuesday’s game wasn’t quite so smooth.
The Waves took a 2-0 lead, then fell behind 4-2 and, soon after, 6-3. They rallied with four runs in the fifth inning for a 7-6 lead but quickly gave up four runs in the top of the sixth.
A three-run rally in the seventh brought the Waves back to even. Hodges hit a two-run triple to score Joe Simone and Ian Ostberg. Xavier Vargas singled to score Hodges with the tying run.
“This game was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of, honestly,” Hodges said. “Back and forth, back and forth. We go down, we go up, we go down again. Everybody did a great job battling tonight.”
Hodges took care of the final blow. Daniel Seres and Ostberg singled in the bottom of the eighth, and Simone drew a walk to load the bases. Hodges unloaded them with one swing, on the first pitch of the at-bat, his new soundtrack still echoing as the ball soared over the center field fence.
“In that situation, I was looking to get a ball up in the air,” Hodges said. “He was living up in the zone. I was just looking to hit a sac fly, but I got a little more of it and it went out so that’s awesome.”
C.J. McKennitt struck out the side around a walk in the ninth to seal the win. Jake Walker, who pitched a scoreless eighth, earned the victory.
The teams combined for 24 runs and 33 hits, 21 of which came off Waves bats. Five different players had multi-hit performances, led by Hodges’ 5-for-6, six RBI night. Hodges raised his batting average from .292 to .321.
Simone went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI, Elijah Dunham went 3-for-5 with three RBI and Vargas had two hits and two RBI. Casey Dana and Dillon Morton also had two hits.
The Waves were set to return to action Wednesday at Newport. They’ll return home Friday for a game against North Adams.
“It feels good to be on a little streak here,” Hodges said. “We’ve got to keep it going.”