A Wind-Nesday Morning Baseball Matchup Between East Providence and Central High School
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League Baseball calendar for Wednesday, April 20th was filled with games all over Rhode Island’s amazing baseball parks. With April vacation all week, schools had some flexibility time wise to schedule games early or keep the normal start times around 4pm. I went through the schedule yesterday morning and checked times that worked for my work schedule and found East Providence High School hosting Central High School at 11am at EP’s Pierce Memorial Field. East Providence sits just west of Seekonk, MA so it was a win-win for me to go to the 11am game and then head into work.
For those of you reading this that are unfamiliar with vinyl records, the term “you sound like a broken record” may not mean anything. You see, when a vinyl record has a scratch or tear or rip on the vinyl, the needle which plays the vinyl record can get stuck playing the same portion of that record over and over again. Thus the phrase, “you sound like a broken record.” Ok let’s continue.
This may sound like a broken record, but Wednesday was another windy, blustery April day here in Rhode Island. When I arrived at Pierce Field in East Providence just before 11am, the temperature was a reasonable 51° with bright sunny skies and just a few clouds lingering in the sky. The story was the wind, which was blowing across the field from right to left and gusting at times out to left field. No wind – sun was nice and warm. Wind – felt like the temperature dropped 20° or more, chilled me to the bone! I took a seat in one of the “red seats” behind home plate closer to the first base dugout and the Central High School Knights baseball team.
Just as East Providence High School was finishing their pre-game infield drills, a Central High School Baseball Assistant stopped to say hello. We exchanged baseball pleasantries, as I tend to do with strangers in an attempt to find some common ground or an interesting piece of information. The man started talking about Davis Park in Providence, a field he used to maintain and help keep up to season, and that he had been a Coach at Classical High School for many, many seasons. I asked him about Houston Astros Shortstop Jeremy Pena, if he had coached him while he was at Classical, and his eyes lit up. This man told me story after story about a special player with special talent and a great work ethic and a great mentor in his father, Geronimo Pena (he played next to Ozzie Smith, said the man at least 3 times), extra practice for a player that was already elite, and what a thrill it is to be a part of Jeremy’s success and development as a professional ball player. The game was starting, so the coach excused himself to get to scoring the game and I had neglected to get the man’s name. I’ll have to get my journalist hat on and look him up.
First pitch from East Providence High School starting Pitcher Jack McKnight was thrown around 11:06am, followed by a huge gust of wind across home plate. And Central’s bats got to work right away with 3 straight base hits to start the game. A timely double play helped McKnight and the EPHS Townies quiet the rally but not before 2 runs had scored in the top of the 1st. Not in your scorebook most likely was a foul ball grounder snagged by long time Central High School Head Coach Dave Hansen, who was patrolling the 3rd base Coach’s box. Hansen’s one handed snag fired up the Central High School bench and players yelled out congratulatory remarks in both English and Spanish to their HC.
Central High School countered with starting Pitcher Justin Odsen, a hard throwing right hander. Odsen had a lively fastball working early in the game, mixed in with some off speed pitches to frustrate the East Providence hitters early. The Central HS starter worked quickly and the results early were very impressive. It is worth noting that EPHS has a legend of its own coaching in their third base coach’s box – East Providence Townie extraordinaire Bobby Rodericks.
The top of the 2nd inning was a Central High School power display at the plate. EPHS’s McKnight remained on the mound and pitched well, in my opinion, throwing consistent strikes with some pace. However, the Central bats were up to the task, driving the baseball into gaps, up against the outfield fences, and recording hit after hit, driving the score up to 7-0 with 5 runs in the 2nd. On any other day, I would say the wind helped some of the hits, but not yesterday. The Central batters were hitting the ball hard, into the wind most times. Explosive offensive performance by some very talented Central hitters.
Things shifted a bit for the EPHS bats in their half of the 3rd inning. Odsen, Central’s starter, had been very consistent with his fastball but was starting to struggle with his off speed pitches a bit. EPHS bats took advantage and began zeroing in on Odsen’s fastball and laying off the off speed pitches. The results – a huge hit parade by EPHS which netting 3 important runs to narrow the score to 7-3 heading into the top of the 4th inning. This got the home crowd into the game and certainly the home team was fired up as well.
As my time was running out and I needed to start heading into work, I took a stroll over to the bleachers facing the football stadium and track. I have been in these bleachers a number of times for games at Pierce and love the view from that spot. I took this video in the farthest corner of the bleachers adjacent to the right field area of Pierce Memorial Field. As you can see from the video, the field is in really nice shape for April baseball!!!
As I was heading out to the parking lot, Central had runners on base and I believe had just plated another run or two as I was walking out. I checked the final score this morning as I was curious to see who had won. Final score was Central 11 – EPHS 6. Overall, it was a very entertaining game. The two starting pitchers hung in there despite giving up hits and runs, and in my opinion pitched well enough to stay in the game. I always say, you can’t strike everyone out, you have 7 guys behind you to help you get outs. Unfortunately, sometimes the baseball hits gaps where there are no fielders and that is just part of the game. It was great to say hello to EPHS legend Bobby Rodericks and to meet up with a few of the fans at the game to chat baseball. And it was great to start my day at the baseball field watching some the top baseball talent we have here in Rhode Island on display at Pierce Field.
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