BRISTOL >> Different year, same result.
The last time RCP’s Cole Ogorzalek pitched at Muzzy Field, he shut out Bristol to win the Northeast Regional title last August. Fast forward a year to Wednesday as Ogorzalek took the mound against Pittsfield, Mass., in the opening round of this year’s regional.
The result? Ogorzalek and RCP won 6-0.
Eighteen innings, 18 zeroes. More that that, this one was even easier than it looked. Ogorzalek (9-0), threw just 81 pitches, never allowed a runner to reach third and never faced more than four batters in an inning.
“I love the mound here at Muzzy,” said Ogorzalek. “My control was probably the best it’s been all year. I went away from my curve ball, which is unusual for me, but the changeup was working well. I’m not a strikeout pitcher [he had one strikeout]. They were swinging early in the count, so I got outs early.
“It’s so much easier to throw 81 no-stress pitches than to throw 81 with runners on third all the time.”
As dominant as Ogorzalek was, this was a 1-0 game going to the eighth inning. All RCP managed to get off of Pittsfield starter Izaiya Mestre was a third inning run on a leadoff walk — it always starts with a walk — an error by shortstop Matt Koperniak, a sacrifice bunt by Ogorzalek and sacrifice fly by Austin White.
RCP (28-5) loaded the bases in the first inning with no one out — and didn’t score.
“When that happened, as it has happened before this year, I figured it was the same old thing, so we were OK,” joked RCP coach T.J. Grande. “But seriously, Ogorzalek is just unbelievable. I don’t know if he’s better leading off the tournament or closing the tournament, but I hope he can do both this weekend.”
RCP played errorless defense behind Ogorzalek with the infield leading the way. Shortstop Cory Baldwin had six assists and two putouts, second baseman Tucker Lord had four assists and three putouts and third baseman Nick Queiroz had three assists.
“That’s how we win,” said Grande. “Pitching and defense. We made some great plays today and some of those plays were just great to watch.”
RCP blew the game open in the eighth inning, after the seventh inning ended with Queiroz thrown out at the plate by left fielder Jack Cooney on a base hit by Ogorzalek.
White (2-for-4, two RBI) opened the inning with a base hit. The next two batters made out, then the roof fell in as the next seven RCP hitters reached base.
Roland Thivierge got the hit that ignited the rally, a booming double up the left-center field gap that scored White.
“The at-bat before then I hit the ball hard to right and the guy made a good catch,” said Thivierge. “I just wanted to hit it hard again in a gap. I got a good pitch to hit.”
Leo Thomas walked, Lord singled in a run and Queiroz walked. Baldwin (3-for-5) singled home two runs and after Ogorzalek (3-for-4) singled, White knocked in another run with his second hit of the inning.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable,” said White, who struggled in the state tournament. “The metal bats are like high school and I just feel it’s high school again.”
He credited Ogorzalek with helping him to get back on track.
“After I struck out the first time, Cole, who is like a big brother to me, came up to me and said to keep smiling, keep swinging and just have fun,” said White. “I got a sacrifice fly the next time and then got two hits. Cole always knows what to do and always knows what to say.”
Pittsfield (26-5) coach Pat Bassi has seen RCP before.
“We’re young and they’re a veteran team,” he said. “We made a couple of mistakes that hurt us. Izaiya pitched great into the eighth inning, but he got tired and they caught up with him. And our relievers, who are young, didn’t do the job.
“Their kid pitched a great game. We had four runners get to second base, but I never had anyone come to visit me at third.”
RCP will play Rochester, N.H., a 4-3 winner over Yankee Ford of South Portland, Maine, Thursday at 4:30 p.m. If RCP wins that game, it would play in the night game Friday. If RCP loses, it will play at 1 p.m. Friday .
In the second game on opening day, Shrewsbury, Mass., defeated Brattleboro, Vt. 6-1.
At 9:30 Thursday, South Portland, Maine, plays Pittsfield with the loser eliminated. In the second game of the morning doubleheader Thursday, Brattleboro, Vt. will play the loser of the late game Wednesday (Bristol or Cumberland, R.I.) with the loser going home.
In the night game Thursday, Shrewsbury will play the winner of the Bristol/Cumberland game.