NORTH KINGSTOWN — The victories keep adding up for the North Kingstown High School baseball team, and while they all count the same, last week’s triumphs had a little extra weight behind them.
In back-to-back games, the Skippers matched up with two of their top challengers in Division I-B and two of the state’s top pitchers. After beating Ben Brutti and South Kingstown on Monday, they sent John Mass and Portsmouth to the same fate on Friday in a 4-0 win at Lischio Field.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Gormley said. “It’s not easy seeing that velocity. It’s tough. I thought we had a similar approach with both guys. We got some timely hits. It’s good to see because that’s the type of pitching we’ll see in the playoffs. We know we can hit it, and that just builds confidence for us.”
Last week’s success put the Skippers at 11-0 and they went to 12-0 on Tuesday with a 7-3 extra-innings victory over Barrington. Two-thirds of the season is complete, and North Kingstown’s loss in game two of last year’s state championship series remains its last defeat.
“Two great wins,” senior Evan Maloney said. “We had great preparation all week. We wanted to get these two games. We want to get all of them obviously, but these two were big.”
The win over Brutti and South Kingstown featured strong pitching and more offense than just about anybody else has put up against the Rebel ace. Against Mass – a Boston College commit who has been dominant all season – the Skippers took a similar approach. Maloney tossed a complete-game shutout and had a lot of help from steady defense behind him. At the plate, the Skippers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and tacked on another run in the third, plus two in the fourth.
Maloney didn’t have his best strikeout stuff, finishing with five in the compete game effort, but he was in control nonetheless. He walked two and limited the damage of four Portsmouth hits, keeping the Patriots off the board throughout. He also snagged a hard line drive back to the mound to start a double play in the second inning.
“He was very efficient,” Gormley said. “By no means do I think he had his best fastball today, but he had his other pitches working, and I thought his defense helped him out a ton. We made some great plays and we didn’t have an error.”
Maloney also helped himself. Four days after he delivered his team’s biggest hit in the win over South Kingstown, he cracked an RBI double in the first inning of Friday’s game to give his team the 1-0 lead.
The Skippers made it 2-0 when Robbie Lamond reached on an error in the third and eventually came around on a sacrifice fly by Josh Lincourt. Two infield hits, an error, a walk and a fielder’s choice allowed North to manufacture two runs in the fourth inning. Evan Beattie came home on a bases-loaded walk and Braeden Perry made it 4-0 when he scored on a fielder’s choice by Lamond.
Armed with the lead, Maloney came up big in the sixth inning when he retired Portsmouth’s 2-3-4 hitters in order, all on fly balls to left field. Max Proulx made all the catches, including one on a dive at the foul line to end the inning.
“It’s awesome,” Maloney said of having good defense behind him. “I can pound the zone and when they put the ball in play, I know I’ve got a great defense behind me.”
The Patriots threatened in the seventh on a single and a walk but one more defensive play finished off the win. Andrew Ciarniello caught a fly ball in left field for the second out. Mac Dunn tried tagging up to third base, but the Skippers cut him down there for the final out on throws by Ciarniello to cutoff man Will Brew to third baseman Quincy Rome.
“AC hits the cutoff, cutoff hits the third baseman and it ends the game,” Gormley said. “They made a couple of outs on the bases and we made some plays. It was good.”
North needed a rally to keep its streak going on Tuesday. Barrington led 3-1 in the sixth and 3-2 in the seventh before the Skippers made their move. Four runs in the eighth put them in front.
Six games remain in the regular season, with the Skippers set for one more against Barrington, a pair of two-game sets against Central and East Providence, and a rescheduled game against Portsmouth.
“Just keep working hard and having good practices,” Maloney said. “I think that’s been the key to our success the last few games. Stay humble and keep having a good approach.”