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Valiant effort by CCRI ends in Region XXI Baseball Tournament

Valiant effort by CCRI ends in Region XXI Baseball Tournament

A season of progress for the Community College of Rhode Island baseball team ended this weekend in the Region XXI Tournament, capping a year in which the Knights more than doubled their win total and continued to establish their presence as one of the northeast’s top programs.

For the second consecutive season, CCRI lost to Northern Essex in the regional finals, but finished with 26 wins overall, more than double their 2022 production when they finished with only 10 wins.

What was even more promising this year was the production of CCRI’s freshman class, which produced standouts Josh Lincourt (North Kingstown, RI), Noah Cook (Cranston, RI), Sam Laurie (Narragansett, RI), Calvin Battersby (West Warwick, RI), Nate Kelly (Lincoln, RI), and Sean Gallagher (Warwick, RI), all of whom ranked among the team leaders in offense and pitching.

Laurie led the team in hitting while Cook finished tops in RBI. Laurie finished with a .458 average among all regulars, including a pair of home runs, 37 RBI, and a .528 on-base percentage. Cook drove in 40 runs in 36 games while slugging .491.

Kelly and Battersby combined for 13 starts during the regular season and each posted a team-high three victories; Kelly’s 3.28 ERA led all starters while Battersby struck out 33 in 37 2/3 innings and led the Knights with two complete games.

Through it all, the Knights kept battling. They returned from their spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, SC, at 1-8 overall, but heated up once regional play began, winning eight in a row and 13 of their next 14. Win No. 13 was their best of the season – a 5-3 victory over Northern Essex, which was Northern Essex’s only league loss during the regular season.

CCRI peaked again toward the end of the year and played its best in April and May, winning 10 of their final 11, including two big wins over Massasoit to clinch the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament.

The Knights stayed hot in the postseason, beating Massasoit – the No. 3 seed ­– 10-6 in the Region XXI quarterfinals to set the stage for an epic showdown with No. 1 Northern Essex in this weekend’s semifinal round at Clark University. CCRI rallied from a three-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning to force extra innings in Saturday’s semifinal showdown and led in both the top of the 11th and 12th, only to lose on a two-out walk-off home run by Northern Essex’s Kameron Levesque.

Undeterred, the Knights dug deep and won the loser’s bracket finale in a rematch against Massasoit later that day, 7-6, to set up Sunday’s championship rematch with Northern Essex. Like last year when they faced Northern Essex in the finals, the Knights needed to win twice to capture their first regional title since 2019, but the region’s No. 1 team was too much to handle, rolling to a 29-10 victory. Northern Essex now enters this weekend’s NJCAA Northeast District Championship in search of its ninth World Series appearance in program history and eighth since 2012.

The offseason now begins for CCRI, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism under second-year coach Joe Hopkins, who has built a team loaded with young talent that proved in 2022 it can compete with the best in the northeast on a day-in, day-out basis.

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