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Baseball player Colucci from Coventry hits walk-off HR to North Kingstown

COVENTRY — Anthony Colucci knew immediately.

Coventry’s senior catcher had never hit a home run during his high school career, but he immediately understood this new feeling.

Colucci’s three-run shot to deep left field in the bottom of the seventh made the Oakers a walkoff winner on Saturday night. Coventry used that big swing to get past North Kingstown 4-1 in a Division I thriller.

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Colucci was behind in the count before encountering a pitch from reliever Ben Davis across the plate. He sent a drive down the line that cleared the fence with enough to make it a 1-1 draw.

“I knew right away,” Colucci said. “That’s my first on the big field. Great pitch for a right-handed hitter.”

Griffin Frenze reached on a fielder’s choice and pinch hitter Colton Lindley walked to reverse the lineup. Colucci dug in with two outs to cap off a big day from second in the order. He scored three of his team’s four goals and drove in all four points as the Oakers eliminated a perennial league contender.

“Our team chemistry is there,” Colucci said. “We’re going to compete with any team. We can stay with all the top teams in the state.”

Colucci’s at-bat delivered a complete-game victory to sophomore right-hander Ryan Pina, who allowed a lone unearned run in the top of the sixth. Pina escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second and stranded a few more in scoring position in the top of the seventh, giving his team a late chance to steal the ball.

“I had my stuff from warmups,” Pina said. “My off-speed felt good. It just went from there.”

That early waste on the part of the skippers caused Pina to set sail. He worked around a walk and an error to set up a lazy fly to right, and North Kingstown put just two more men on base for the top of the sixth. Pina recorded just one strikeout, but limited the Skippers to four hits over his seven frames.

“I have a good defense behind me,” Pina said. “I know they will do their job if I get in trouble.”

It was scoreless in the bottom of the fifth before Coventry (4-2) broke the ice. Frenze singled to right, stole second base and was still there when Logan Downey was walked intentionally with two outs. Colucci delivered an RBI single to center and the Oakers had a 1-0 lead.

“I’m just trying to put something on the ground,” Colucci said. “I’m trying to score that runner from second.”

North Kingstown (3-3) answered immediately with some production. Bodie Forsell walked, advanced on a sacrifice, took third base on an infield out and scored when Coventry committed an infield error. Pina ended the inning with a routine fly to left and worked around a pair of one-out singles in the top of the seventh.

“A lot of confidence from a young sophomore,” Colucci said. “He fills the zone. He trusts his defense to have his back. That’s all you can ask of a young pitcher.”

It was the Oakers’ third strong pitching effort of the week, and they have allowed one run or fewer in each of their league wins. Downey’s late three-run homer against Cranston East made Colucci the winner on Tuesday, and the Wheaton commit himself took the honors on the mound against Cranston West on Thursday. Pina followed suit in one of the few games on the schedule – Coventry’s coaching staff were hard at work clearing the night and morning rains from the infield for most of the afternoon.

“We have a good feeling about it,” says Pina. “There are still a lot of games left – we’re just going to do our job. Go in and win every inning. That’s how we deal with it.”

North Kingstown 000 001 0 – 1 4 2

Coventry 000 010 3 – 4 4 2

Will Creed, Ben Davis (7) and Tucker Lamond. Ryan Pina and Anthony Colucci. HR – Colucci (C).

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