Falcons surprise defending champs

PLAINVILLE – When the St. Paul baseball team trailed defending Class M champion Plainville 1-0 going into the top of the sixth inning, there wasn’t an ounce of panic in the Falcons’ dugout.
St. Paul had other opportunities throughout the early portions of the game but that one elusive hit never materialized as the Falcons left several runners on base.
That was until that fateful sixth stanza when the Falcons finally broke through and tallied several critical runs.
Behind a stellar pitching effort from Jared Valois and several patient approaches at the plate, the Falcons scored four runs in the sixth and an additional five in the seventh as St. Paul tallied up an impressive 9-2 non-conference victory from Alumni Field in Plainville on Saturday, April 6.
“I told them earlier in the week to play a full seven innings, one through seven, and to keep putting pressure on the (Plainville) defense and we did that,” said St. Paul coach Pat Holden. “We put pressure on the defense the first three or four innings and then we were able to break through and put some crooked number on the board.”
“It was a testament for my team buying into playing the full seven innings, chipping away (at it), and doing their parts.”
The St. Paul offense certainly did its part – pasting together a season high 14 hits – while on the mound for the Falcons, Jared Valois was simply outstanding.
He gave up just two runs and spaced five hits over a complete game effort.
At one point, Valois retired 10 straight batters and showed plenty of poise during his starting appearance.
Valois struck out two while walking just one and even as Plainville notched a couple key runs in the game, the chucker for the visitors just made big pitch after big pitch.
“It was a great effort,” said Holden of Valois. “He’s only a sophomore. He kind of pitched out of the bullpen for the majority of his freshman season (last year), worked his way into a number three starting role and just did a great job of throwing strikes, challenging hitters, and letting the defense work behind him.”
Everybody got into the grove offensively as Josh Dobratz (3-of-4, 1 BB, 3 RBI) and the nifty Kyle Dube (2-for-3, 2 BBs) led a very potent attack from the plate.
But the biggest hit of the day came by the hands of Emilio Santiago in the final inning of play.
With the visitors in front by two runs and the bases loaded, Santiago unleashed a long double to right field as his only hit produced three RBI and insurance tallies that made it a 7-2 tilt in St. Paul’s favor.
Two runs later, the Falcons went ahead 9-2 and never looked back.
However, the game was far from a runaway as Plainville controlled the first five innings of the afternoon.
The game was a scoreless affair going into the second frame but a critical gaffe in the outfield started a chain of events that led to the Blue Devils first run of the afternoon.
Plainville’s Marc DeMartinis slammed a fly-ball into left but it was misplayed as the first runner of the inning was safely on-base.
Tyler Pina followed up with a one-hopper to right to put two runners on at first and third with no outs and the Blue Devils were in business.
Tyler Favreau followed up with another fly to left and even as it was caught for the first out of the stanza, DeMartinis crossed home plate as the sacrifice made it a 1-0 game.
And that score stayed true into the sixth frame as St. Paul – having chances to break things open but never getting a runner across as it stranded 12 on base in the game – finally turned the tide of the contest.
Starting Plainville pitcher Brian Dostaler was still on the mound when the Falcons opened the inning with a single to left from Tristan Petit, a fielder’s choice by A.J. Lorenzetti, a slick infield hit from Kyle Kyle MacLean and a walk to Troy Micale loaded up the bases with one out.
Dostaler was lifted in favor of closer Favreau and the senior chucker got pinch hitter Ben Mazzone out on strikes for the second out of the frame and battled Matt Santovasi to a full count, one strike away from keeping it a 1-0 game in Plainville’s favor.
But the last pitch was called a ball as Santovasi’s base-on-balls forced in a run, and the game was quickly tied at 1-1.
“You’ve got to make them (St. Paul) swing the bat,” said Plainville coach Lou Mandeville. “I think when they got the bases loaded with one out, I didn’t even think they were swinging. It didn’t look like they wanted to swing the bat. They were making us throw strikes and we didn’t throw strikes and then (Josh Dobratz later) got the big hit right up the middle.”
One batter later, Favreau was in another battle with Santiago and off another full count, ball four was called as another runner crossed the plate and the Blue Devils were suddenly trailing 2-1.
With the bases still juiced, Dobratz slammed a sharp single into right as two runners scored and St. Paul ended the stanza with a comfortable 4-1 edge.
However, Plainville still had one last run in it before things were said and done.
With two outs in the sixth, Marc DeMartinis drilled a hit to center, Tyler Pina plunked a short shot into left and with ducks in the pond and the tying run at the plate, Favreau smashed an RBI single into center and the deficit was chopped to 4-2 with Plainville still threatening.
But with the batter at the plate signaling the go-ahead run, Valois got Mike Munson to fly out to center as the Falcons held its two run lead going into the final inning.
“Valois knew he had to keep challenging hitters,” said Holden. “He knew if he threw strikes and not gave away many free passes, the defense would make plays behind him. Even with that 4-2 score, he still had two runs to play with a good defense behind him.”
Off Santiago’s three RBI double to make it a five-run game, Dobratz sent a bloop RBI single into center and two plays later, a throwing error by Plainville shortstop Shane Pugliese plated Dube and propelled the visitors to a 9-2 cushion with one last set of outs for the Blue Devils to try to mount a comeback.
But even as St. Paul dropped a ball in centerfield that started a Plainville rally, Cody Charneski hit into a 6-4-3 double play and one pop-out later, St. Paul moved to 3-0 on the season with a big seven-run win in Plainville.