PROVIDENCE — They needed to work an extra day, but the South Kingstown baseball team will be making a return trip to McCoy Stadium.
The Rebels, who lost in last year’s Division I state title series, earned the right to play for the championship again as they posted a 5-2 victory over Coventry in the deciding game of the Division I Pod I tournament on Sunday at Rhode Island College.
The Rebels will play La Salle in the best-of-three state title series beginning on Monday at McCoy at 6 p.m.
The setback ended Coventry’s Cinderella ride through the double-elimination tourney. The fourth-seeded Oakers had won four straight games after a second-round loss to Hendricken. Included among those four triumphs were victories over five-time state champion Hendricken and a Saturday victory over South Kingstown that forced Sunday’s deciding game.
“It’s a senior team with a chance to win the state championship and they gutted it out,” South Kingstown coach Jim Sauro said about his squad.
South Kingstown jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first and never relinquished the lead. But it wasn’t until the Rebels broke away from a slim 3-2 lead with two runs in the top of the seventh that South Kingstown fans could breathe a little easier.
South Kingstown came into the top of the third holding the 1-0 lead, but the Rebels still had not registered a hit. Sam Kenyon finally collected that off Coventry starter Rob Regine with a lead-off single, and Blaine Lidsky followed with a triple into the right center-field gap, giving the Rebels a 2-0 lead. Asa Nyblom followed with a sacrifice fly, pushing the Rebels led to 3-0.
South Kingstown starting pitcher Bo Brutti worked his way out of trouble in the bottom of the third when he struck out two in a row after Coventry put runners on second and third with only one out.
Brutti worked his way out of another jam in the bottom of the fifth after Coventry loaded the bases with only one out.
Coventry broke into the scoring column in the bottom of the sixth by collecting three straight hits with one out. Lucas Garcia’s single brought home the Oakers first run. Sauro then called on Shaun Gamelin in relief.
Coventry scored another run when South Kingstown center fielder Brendan Blessing made a great catch off a deep fly by the Oakers’ Nick D’Ambra. The Oakers’ Steve Verrier tagged up and scored, cutting the Oakers deficit to 3-2, but the catch, in effect, killed the Coventry rally.
South Kingstown upped its lead to 5-2 in the top of the seventh on RBI hits from Lidsky and Nyblom. Coventry did put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Gamelin finished the game with a strikeout.
South Kingstown 102 000 2 — 5 5 3
Coventry 000 002 0 — 2 8 1
Bo Brutti, Shaun Gamelin (6) and Blaine Lidsky; Rob Regine, Lucas Garcia (7) and Cam Reid.