Howard Rogers hangs tough in R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League

Howard Rogers hangs tough in R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League

Howard Rogers Post 25 pitcher Manny Ortiz delivers a fastball to the plate during last Friday night’s game against Upper Deck Post 14 at Max Read Field. Ortiz, who graduated from Shea High last year after enjoying an outstanding baseball career with the Raiders, was a reliever on this spring’s CCRI ball club. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Post 25's Senior Division ballclub takes 3-4 record into second half of season

PAWTUCKET – Howard Rogers Post 25’s solid season hit a minor speed bump last Friday night.

Taking on two-time defending R.I. American Legion Senior Division champion Upper Deck Post 14 for the second time in five nights at Max Read Field, the Pawtucket ballclub mustered a season-low three hits in suffering a 10-0 loss that dropped Post 25’s R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League record to 3-4.

“(This was) a very tough game,” said Post 25 assistant coach Cory Morel, who handled the post-game duties of talking to the media for manager Jim LaRose. “We stole the first game from them – a very well-played game – and I think (Upper Deck) came out tonight and had a little chip on their shoulder that we took one from them.”

Howard Rogers’ first game with Upper Deck took place last Monday, July 20, at Cumberland’s Tucker Field, and Post 25 escaped with a 4-3 victory that saw Post 25 erase a 3-2 deficit by scoring twice in the top of the seventh inning on Sean Filipe’s RBI double to left-center field and Manny Ortiz’s go-ahead, run-scoring single up the middle.

But while Post 25 collected eight hits in that game, the team was unable to produce half that many against Upper Deck starting pitcher Ben Hale and reliever Nick Croteau, who teamed up to blank Howard Rogers and strike out five batters while walking three.

Two of the hits came from speedy center fielder James Coleman, who recently moved to the leadoff spot in Post 25’s lineup. Coleman also stole two bases and was Upper Deck’s only runner to advance as far as third.

“He’s a very fast player,” Morel said of Coleman, who is a newcomer to the ballclub. “In the first couple of games, he was (batting) lower in the order until we could actually see what he could do.”

Upper Deck, which improved to 4-3 with this victory, did the bulk of its damage in the top of the second by scoring four times and in the fifth by notching four more runs. Ortiz suffered the loss on the mound, as he worked the first three innings, struck out three batters and walked none, and only gave up two earned runs in the second.

In Post 25’s victory over Post 14 four nights earlier, Howard Rogers ace pitcher Trey Thibeault improved his record to 3-0 with a strong complete-game outing that saw him yield eight hits, strike out three and walk one.

Thibeault’s best start of the season came in Post 25’s season opener against Smithfield/North Providence Post 29 on July 6 at Max Read Field, as he silenced Post 29 on three hits, struck out nine batters, and walked one.

Thibeault, who is one of three players on the roster who hails from Cumberland, saw one of his hometown teammates, Atticus Cardoso, score the decisive run in the home half of the fourth on Jeff LaRose’s base hit up the middle.

“Trey’s a very good pitcher, he’s going to CCRI, and I wish him the best of luck,” Morel added. “He should do very well there.”

With a little luck, the second-year Howard Rogers squad, which mostly contains former and current players from Tolman High, Shea High, and St. Raphael Academy, could have entered this week with a winning record.

But in Post 25’s second game of the season, a 7-2 loss to South Kingstown Post 39 at Wakefield’s Old Mountain Field, Howard Rogers saw a 6-2 lead evaporate when S.K. rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Ortiz struck out 13 batters, retired 11 in a row at one point, and allowed just two earned runs in suffering the tough-luck loss, and Ian Montanez led the way offensively by going 3-for-3 with two runs batted in.

Howard Rogers will host first-place Gershkoff/Auburn Post 20, which is 7-1, tonight at 5:30 p.m. and Newport’s R&R Construction tomorrow at the same time at Max Read Field. Those games will kick off a 10-day stretch that will see Post 25 play seven times before turning its attention to the postseason.

Howard Rogers center fielder James Coleman, right, dives back into first base on a pickoff attempt, as Upper Deck first baseman Ryan Thompson applies the late tag. Coleman, who also plays for CCRI, went 2-for-2 with two stolen bases, but Post 14 ended up winning the game, 10-0.
Howard Rogers catcher and recent Shea High graduate Brandon Ribeiro will be back in action tonight at 5:30 p.m. when Post 25 hosts Gershkoff/Auburn Post 20 at Max Read Field.