It was a battle of Knights on Tuesday as CCRI trounced Northern Essex Community College 22-9 at Fell Field in Warwick during a Region XXI League baseball showdown in Division III.
CCRI was led by Ray Aponte, who went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and three RBI, Joey Barter, who went 2-for-4 and blasted a grand slam with four RBI, and Anthony Ramos, who went 5-for-5 with a double, four singles, and three RBI, plus a stolen base.
“Good game there,” CCRI head coach Kevin Rix said. “We swung it pretty good.”
CCRI moved down to D-III this season from D-II, and Rix believes Northern Essex will be the Knights’ biggest competition.
And CCRI’s blowout win didn’t alter the coach’s mind. In evidence, Rix reiterated that he thought next month’s doubleheader against the rival Knights would still be anything but a cakewalk.
“Absolutely not,” Rix said. “Matter of fact, we played these guys three times last year. We 10-run ruled them the first time, they 10-run ruled us the second time, and we 10-run ruled them the third time. So, they can swing it.”
Cristian Woods started on the bump for CCRI and earned the win, pitching 5.1 innings while striking out five, and giving up five earned runs.
“Woods was phenomenal,” Rix said. “He gave up five runs, but I say the wind was a cause of three or four of them. But then again, we got nine runs too off of home runs that are probably caught on other days.”
CCRI got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first when with the bases loaded, Barter rocketed a shot at the shortstop, Spencer Brown, who overthrew the second baseman, and that allowed two runs to score.
Then, with the bases reloaded, Aponte ripped an RBI single off the wall in left-center and upped the Knights’ advantage to 3-0.
Next, with the bases still jammed, Jacob Frost batted a sacrifice fly to center and drove in Barter and made it 4-0.
Northern Essex got a run back in the top of the second when Spencer Balian launched a long RBI double to center to score Kyle Hawes while inching his team within 4-1.
CCRI added a run to its buffer in the bottom of the second when Nick D’Ambra hit a sac fly to shallow center to drive in Kyle McCann, making it 5-1.
In the top of the third, Northern Essex pulled within 5-3 after Riley Magee hit a two-run blast over the centerfield wall.
But, in the bottom of the inning, the CCRI offense exploded for seven runs.
First, Aponte belted a two-run shot to center and extended the Knights’ lead to 7-3. Ramos socked an RBI single to score Frost from second and that made it 8-3. Next, with the bases loaded, Barter walloped a grand slam over the wall in center and increased the CCRI cushion to 12-3.
In the top of the fourth, Northern Essex’s Dylan Duval belted an RBI single to left and scored Hawes, getting his team within 12-4.
During the bottom of the frame, CCRI added on three more runs.
McCann tattooed a shot into the centerfield gap and scored Aponte, which put CCRI up 13-4. Next, Ramos blasted an RBI single to center, which rolled under the glove of the center fielder, and that allowed Ramos to come all the way around to score, making it 15-4.
In the top of the fifth, Northern Essex’s Alex Almonte socked a two-run homer over the left field wall and pulled his team within 15-6.
CCRI tacked on seven more runs in the bottom of the seventh.
First, Frost worked a bases-loaded walk and that upped the Knights’ advantage to 16-6.
Next, with the bases reloaded, McCann smashed a shot at the shortstop, who bobbled it and that allowed another run to come in, making it 17-6.
Then, Ramos rocketed an RBI single by the second baseman and scored Aponte, making it 18-6.
Next, D’Ambra hit a ground ball at the first baseman, who overthrew the pitcher, who was standing on first base, and that allowed Frost to score from third, upping the Knights’ margin to 19-6.
Then, Zack Odsen launched a sac fly to right and scored McCann making it 20-6.
Finally, with runners at the corners, Justin Brown hammered a two-run double to deep right and scored Ramos and D’Ambra and put CCRI on top 22-6.
Northern Essex managed three runs in the top of the sixth.
With one out, Woods gave up a single to Harrison Engstom and then the pitcher was pulled.
With John DeRoulin now pitching in relief, Engstom scored on a passed ball and inched Northern Essex within 22-7. Then, Brown hit a two-run single and scored Duval and Robert Lagasse, making it 22-9.
With the win, CCRI improves its regular season record to 6-8 on the season. The Knights play next on Thursday at home against Salve Regina at 3:30 p.m. before heading to Massasoit for a doubleheader on Saturday.