PLAINVILLE, Mass. – As a tight race has once again formed at the top of the Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division’s standings, the balance of the league regular-season championship will likely be decided by a matter of a few moments.
And, in the case of Monday’s duel between No. 5 King Philip and No. 15 Taunton at the Plainville PAL, the difference came down to just one-half of an inning. The Tigers sent 10 hitter to plate and scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning, en route to a 6-1 win over the Warriors.
On the flip side, Taunton ace Jesse Aleixo took care of the rest with a complete-game, three-hitter, striking out seven and walking three.
“That’s a nice offensive show for us,” Tigers coach Dave Lewry said. “That’s our best offensive game of the year – might not have been the most runs, but it came against a quality opponent.”
Taunton (8-1, 5-1 Kelley-Rex) took advantage of a pair of lead-off walks from MacKenzie Navarro and Jordan Wade in its pivotal fourth-inning rally. Third baseman Giovanna Diminico got the Tigers on the board with a one-out single dumped into center field off of Warriors starter Renee Poirier. Kim McCone followed with a sacrifice fly to center, before Tigers lead-off hitter Kailey March delivered the big blow of the inning, sending a two-run double to the gap in right-center field.
Right fielder Kelly Reading capped the five-run outburst with an RBI single to right.
“We’re starting to come around offensively,” Lewry said. “We chip away, we get a run here, a run there. Today, it was nice to see us string them together.”
KP (5-4, 5-2) broke up Aleixo’s shutout bid in the home half of the fifth, as shortstop Ashley Hession took a 1-1 offering over the left field fence for a home run.
But the Warriors were unable to establish any consistent traffic on the basepaths, despite striking some soundly-hit outs.
“They all swing a really good bat, it’s just a question of us putting it together,” KP coach Norm Beauchemin said. “There was one inning, we hit three balls right on the nose and they were three outs. That’s the way the game is though. It’s not how many hits you get, it’s when you get them.”
Lewry attributed Alexio’s successful outing to her ability to mix and match pitches, while establishing the inner portion of the strike zone.
“She had everything working today – the screwball, the curve, the rise, early in the game, was working,” Lewry said. “She was working the corners beautifully. If you do that, I don’t care how good the hitters are, you’re in good shape.”
The Tigers tacked on their final run in the sixth, when Diminco scored on an infield error.
Poirier was tagged with the loss, despite pitching effectively and sitting down nine of the first 10 batters she faced. But, as has become a frustrating trend, it just came down to one inning.
“We just can’t seem to keep away from that one inning,” Beauchemin said. “It’s happened I think in three games now, and we’re not scoring enough runs to offset it.”