Through their first two home games of the season, Rhode Island (9-12) split a pair of contests against non-conference opponents.
The Rams defeated Central Connecticut State University (7-13) 5-1 on Tuesday, before being trounced by Northeastern (11-12) 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon at Bill Beck Field.
On Tuesday, Rhode Island followed the lead of their starter, redshirt junior Blaise Whitman, who dominated the Blue Devil lineup. Whitman pounded the strike zone, going five innings while allowing just two walks and five hits, as compared to five strikeouts. Whitman’s five strikeout performance came one short of his career best.
The Rams offense exploded for four runs in the fourth. Redshirt senior Derek Gardella, reached base on a single to left and scored after a Martin Figueroa single led to an errant throw. Rams senior catcher Chase Livingston proceeded to drop a double down the left field line and later scored on a senior Ryan Olmo single. With Rams leading 2-0, redshirt junior Mike Corin tripled in Olmo, who scored later in the inning on a Mike Foley base hit.
URI would tack on a lone run in the eighth for insurance’s sake, while Connor Foreman in his first career appearance picked up the save over two innings.
Wednesday for the Rams however would be a different story. Though able to record 10 hits, URI only mustered two runs while the Huskies controlled the pace of the game.
Northeastern jumped all over freshman Jason Blanchard in his first career start, giving him the loss. Over Blanchard’s three innings of work, he allowed four runs on five hits, two walks and a homerun. Three of the Huskies runs came in the top of the first, a lead they would never relinquish.
“He’s just a freshman learning how to pitch,” head coach Raphael Cerrato said. “There were a lot more positives than negatives with Jason.”
Rhode Island threatened in the fifth inning after three straight singles from redshirt junior Matt O’Neal, redshirt freshman Laurence Hill and sophomore Jordan Powell, Northeastern starter Nate Borges balked in a run, but then put the clamps down, retiring the next three Rams in succession. The Rams had a couple of chances to break through, but couldn’t seem to find a key hit.
“We gotta be tougher mentally,” Cerrato said. “We had bases loaded with our two, three, four hitters and they’re good hitters. I think they just had poor at-bats. I expect them to be better than that in the future.”
In the sixth, Corin knocked in Olmo for the only other Rams run, as the Huskies specked the scoreboard with lone runs in the third, fourth and ninth to pull away from the Rams in Kingston.
A bright spot for URI was Powell, who went 3-for-5 in the game on his way to his fourth three-hit performance and seventh multi-hit game.
“I feel like seeing the ball pretty well this year especially. Last year I struggled seeing off-speed pitches and fastballs away,” Powell said. “I got carved up a couple times by our own pitchers but they helped me,” Powell said of his winter preparation for the season.
Rhode Island will play a home-and-home non-conference series with the University of Massachusetts Amherst this weekend before Virginia Commonwealth University comes to Kingston in their next conference action.
WRIU’s Stone Freeman contributed interviews to this story.