Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First-time champs of the ITL

Rowley Rams knock off Rockport in championship

ROWLEY — Rowley's Intertown baseball team won its first championship in team history at Eiras Park last night, beating Rockport 5-2 behind a complete-game effort from right-hander Mike Sloban.

"I just can't say enough about this group of guys, honestly," said Rams coach Jeff Wood. "It's talent, but it's also an understanding of how this game is played and the way you have to do it to have a successful team."

Rockport got on the board first in the top of the second inning when Mike Emerson hit a double to left field, then was brought in by a single from Chuck Anderson.

The Rams didn't let that sit for long, as Dave Smith started things off in the bottom of the frame with a single off Townies starter Brett Smith. Mario Luisi drew a walk, followed by another walk to Andrew Barba to load the bases.

Andrew Fecteau hit a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Smith. A single from Tim Moore loaded the bases again, and Smith walked in a batter for the Rams' second run.

The bottom of the third had a single from Luisi, plating Ralph Renzulli, and that was all for Smith, who was relieved by Derek Osmond.

The Townies struck again in the top of the fourth on a single from Connor Ressell that scored Dan Greel. Rockport would not muster any runs after that, and the Rams scored their fourth run in the bottom of the fourth on a double to deep left from Kyle McElroy that scored Anthony Conte.

The bottom of the fifth saw Fecteau reaching on a single, stealing second and taking third on a wild pitch. Fecteau was then brought home on a single from Jordan Silva, and that was all Rowley would need to go out as champion.

"I wanted to go the distance all year long and haven't had the chance to do it," said Sloban, who threw 95 pitches, had four strikeouts, three walks and eight hits. "But I was getting ahead, throwing strikes, getting my ground balls, and I got the job done."

"I just pitched the clincher game," Sloban said of closing out the Rams' championship season. "There's a lot of guys who came into it; there was a lot of solid defense. We've got a lot of good pitchers on this team."

"It was one of those games where we were in it," said Townies coach Jeremy Spittle. "But we couldn't find a hit. I thought defensively and our pitching, we were in the game. We just couldn't catch a break offensively. (The Rams are) a great team. Woody's done a great job with them. They deserve all the recognition. They're just a better team."

"They're all winners," Wood said of his championship team. "They come from successful programs. There's a lot of Georgetown guys who have won a state championship. There's a lot of (Newburyport) Legion guys that won a championship. They come from successful college programs. They're winners.

"To beat Manchester Essex in the first round and to beat Rockport in the second, those two teams have won the championship for the last 11 years in this league. So that brings a lot of validation to us as a team. To beat those two teams in the playoffs to get this done is a great accomplishment."

Wood's squad finished 18-5-2 to Rockport's 14-10 record.

"We put a lot of work into getting this done," Wood said. "This didn't happen overnight. I can't say enough about the depth. It's a team. I put 18 to 19 guys on the roster at the beginning of the year. A lot of people questioned if we could keep those guys happy. We sit here now with a championship."