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Fast-rising baseball team closes out season with important weekend series

Fast-rising baseball team closes out season with important weekend series

The red-hot Community College of Rhode Island baseball team heads into the final weekend of the 2023 regular season with an opportunity to solidify its spot in the upcoming NJCAA Region XXI Tournament.

At 21-5 overall and 15-3 in regional play, the Knights are headed back to the Region XXI Tournament following last year’s dramatic run to the championship round. Depending on how they fare Saturday against Massasoit Community College – which is neck and neck with CCRI in regional play at 16-4 – and in Sunday’s doubleheader against Quinsigamond Community College, which is 10-7 in regional play, the Knights will be either the No. 2 or 3 seed when tournament play begins the following weekend.

Saturday’s game at Whitey Fell Field is Massasoit’s regular-season finale, whereas CCRI still has two more games Sunday, so the entire weekend is critical in terms of finalizing tournament seeds. Defending regional champion Northern Essex remains the cream of the crop at 28-6 overall and 18-1 in regional play with its only loss coming against CCRI on April 13 in Warwick.

In recent weeks, the Knights have made significant strides in establishing their presence as a legitimate contender for a regional title. They’ve won seven of their last eight since a five-game losing streak in mid-April with wins against Bunker Hill and New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI), and a doubleheader split against Massasoit on Thursday.

The last five games have been particularly impressive. The Knights swept a doubleheader against NHTI by a combined score of 31-9; beat Quinsigamond, 12-6, the following afternoon; and then split with Massasoit last Thursday, losing the first game, 3-2, and cruising to an 18-6 win in the nightcap.

One of the hottest hitters in the lineup is leadoff hitter and sophomore left fielder Sam Laurie (Narragansett, RI), who in a team-high 113 at-bats leads the team with a .469 average and 36 RBI among full-time players. Since April 20, Laurie is a blistering 14-for-23 with 13 runs driven in and 13 scored. He also led the pace in CCRI’s recent win over Massasoit, finishing 4-for-4 with four RBI and a sacrifice fly.

Freshmen Josh Lincourt (North Kingstown, RI), Noah Cook (Cranston, RI), and Sean Gallagher (Warwick, RI) have also been terrific. Lincourt and Cook have each driven in 31 runs, which is tied for second on the team, and Gallagher is batting .356 with 28 RBI in 29 games this season. Lincourt has been equally hot of late and has 14 hits in his last 25 at-bats including a seven-game hitting streak.

CCRI’s talented freshmen class has also anchored the pitching staff – particularly the starting rotation. Nate Kelly (Lincoln, RI), Calvin Battersby (West Warwick, RI), and Dayton Van Amberg (Warren, RI) have logged more innings than anyone on the staff and boast nine combined wins in 18 starts, all with sub-4.00 ERAs. Kelly has struck out 41 batters in 49 1/3 innings with a 3.28 ERA while Battersby has pitched two complete games with a 3.82 ERA. Van Amberg is 3-2 in five starts and boasts a team-best 2.57 ERA. Kelly has been dominant of late, allowing two earned runs or less in each of his last five starts and has pitched at least six innings each, including seven shutout innings in a win over Southern Maine on March 31 and a nine-inning complete-game win against Holyoke in his following start on April 6.

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