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David Chabut, of the Ocean State Waves, doesn't get the throw in time to tag out James Ciliento, of North Adams during Thursday's game at Old Mountain Field.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — The stretch run has been long, with two doubleheaders last week and 10 games packed into the final nine days of the regular season.

The bench is thin, key players forced to end their summers early due to injuries.

But the Ocean State Waves are still going strong.

“We have a great group of guys,” said all-star third baseman Casey Dana. “It stinks seeing guys have to go back home, but the main guys who have been here the whole time, we’re really close now and we’re all striving for the same goal – win this thing.”

The Waves clinched a New England Collegiate Baseball League postseason berth earlier this week and secured home-field advantage for the first round with a 10-8 win over Mystic Tuesday. They were still in contention for first place until a loss to New Bedford in Wednesday's regular-season finale, sending them into a one-game playoff. As the No. 2 seed, the Waves will host No. 3 Mystic Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Old Mountain Field.

The Waves have played their best baseball in the second half of the season despite losing big contributors like Quincy McAfee, L.T. Struble, Brian Moskey and Michael Turner along the way. With the help of reinforcements like David Chabut and Daren Wood, and with their core players leading the way, the Waves are 15-7 since July 6, a stretch that has included five-game and four-game winning streaks.

The latest surge – capped by a doubleheader sweep of North Adams Thursday at Old Mountain Field – sent the Waves out of a tightly-packed second tier in the Southern Division standings and into contention with Plymouth for the top spot. Saturday’s win over Winnipesaukee moved the Waves into first place, though Plymouth ultimately regained the top spot. 

“We’re getting hot, and the team’s getting better together,” first baseman Grant English said. “We’re like a big family now. We’re just trying to tie it all together and bring home Ws.”

The Waves lost an extra-inning game to the Keene Swamp Bats Monday but rebounded in Tuesday’s home finale, winning the key matchup with Mystic. Garrett Hodges and Sonny Ulliana blasted home runs to erase a 4-3 deficit. Thad Harris allowed four runs in 5.2 innings for the win. Mystic made a late push with four runs in the eighth inning, but Corey Sawyer worked a scoreless ninth to finish off the victory.

Ulliana had four RBI, while Hodges went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Ryan Ward and Liam McArthur each had two hits, and Dana scored three runs.

“Hitting wise, we’ve been putting a lot of runs on the board,” Dana said. “We’ve come out strong in every game and that really helps. Getting runs early and attacking teams.”

The Waves hit the playoffs with wins in seven of their last 10 games. The three losses in that span were all by one run, two of which went to extra innings. . 

“Hopefully, we keep winning,” said second baseman Cullen Smith said. “We’ve all been talking about it – we’re here, we’ve been here two months and we might as well win the thing. No reason to go home early now.”

“I don’t fly out till the 11th, so I’m here regardless,” English said. “I’m ready to do whatever the team’s ready to do. I think we all kind of want to bring home a ring for the Ocean State Waves.”

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