A pair of aces!! Townies' hand is flushed as they defend their D-II baseball crown

Returning junior standout dealers Robitaille, Annicelli lead capable EPHS club

By Mike Rego
Posted 4/2/24

For just the second time in the 91 seasons the Rhode Island Interscholastic League has sanctioned the sport, the East Providence High School baseball team starts a spring as a reigning champion, the …

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A pair of aces!! Townies' hand is flushed as they defend their D-II baseball crown

Returning junior standout dealers Robitaille, Annicelli lead capable EPHS club


For just the second time in the 91 seasons the Rhode Island Interscholastic League has sanctioned the sport, the East Providence High School baseball team starts a spring as a reigning champion, the Townies having won the Division II title a year ago.

However, in 2024, EPHS actually gets a chance to defend its crown. Some might remember after winning the D-II title in 2014, the Townies were realigned up to the state's top tier where they stayed until 2022 before dropping back down last season and returning to championship-winning form.

This time around, East Providence has just about all of the key contributors back to a squad that went 12-6 during the 2023 regular season, finished first in the II-A ranks (one of four subgroups in the league) then rattled off four wins to begin the postseason before edging East Greenwich in the best-of-three final, two games to one.

"Our core guys have stuck together this entire offseason with camps, trainings, (American) Legion, fall ball and AAU," said EPHS head coach Bobby Rodericks Jr., who was also at the helm of the Townies for their only other title a decade ago. "As we enter this season we feel it’s just a continuation of last season's success and we'll build on the positive momentum we have going and continue to improve in every aspect individually as players, coaches and a program."

With all due respect to the sides, the difference between the Townies and the Avengers last spring came on the mound in the form of EP's two now junior aces, right-handed hurlers Tim Robitaille and Dylan Annicelli.

After EG barely got the better of Robitaille and the Townies in the opener by a 3-2 score, Annicelli threw six-and-two-thirds innings of shut out ball before being relieved by '23 grad Jack McKnight, who got the final out with the bases loaded to secure a 1-0 win. Robitaille then returned to the hill for the decider, going the seven-inning distance in another 1-0 EP triumph.

"Tim and Dylan have ran their own pitching clinics for the middle school and Little League players this winter as well as participating in their own training programs. They have both improved immensely and I look forward to seeing them this season," Rodericks said of his pitching standouts, each of whom threw well in the Townies' two preseason scrimmages against Mt. Hope and Providence Country Day.

The pair will once again throw to junior catcher Brian Rutkowski, who emerged as a fine backstop early last spring upon an injury to presumed starter and another '23 grad Manny "Chico" Santos. Freshman Aidan Martins is the backup behind the plate.

Around the infield, sophomore Gavin Palombo, who spent most of last year in the outfield, takes over for McKnight at third with senior Kyler Lorenz returning as the starter at shortstop as does his double-play mate junior Oliver Andrews at second. Junior Colin Roche and classmate Tyler Dicecco, a transfer from Hendricken, are likely to split time at first.

In the outfield, sophomore Nolan Lorenz and senior Steven Estrella are back in right and center, respectively, while the aforementioned Martins seems poised to begin the spring in left.

Estrella, Kyler Lorenz and Nolan Lorenz start the year setting the table at the top of the batting order followed by Andrews, Robitaille and Dicecco. Rodericks said he's still figuring who among Palombo, Rutkowski, Roche and Martins will complete the bottom of the order depending on the designated hitter spot and the defensive alignment for any particular game.

Dicecco, a capable thrower, is likely to see time on the mound as a third starting pitcher when necessary and also out of the bullpen. Sophomores Jayden Healey, Kyle Desrosiers and Ben Hallene "will all be getting plenty of junior varsity innings as pitchers, but will contribute as relievers for varsity when needed," Rodericks said.

He continued, "Tyler is going to fit really nice into our lineup. He's a very versatile player and could play all infield positions on the field as well as pitch and play outfield. He also has a strong bat and is projected to be in the middle of the order. For our lineup and team makeup he fits well into the role of first base where Colin can fill in for him when he pitches. He will be a relief pitcher as he eases his way into a possible starting role, especially in a Game 3-type situation."

The rest of the varsity roster includes freshman Max Carreiro, who Rodericks said could contribute as a sub in the outfield and as a pinch hitter when needed. He also said senior Tyler Quadros will be a "platoon player" who can pitch, play outfield, catch, pinch hit and pinch run. Another senior Malaquias Fernandez continues to recover from a lengthy injury, according to the coach, but also is a possible pinch hitter and left-handed relief pitcher if he can stay healthy.

As for the season ahead, being the league champs comes with a heavy burden. A year ago and after a rather slow 3-5 start, the Townies found their footing in the second half of their slate and into the playoffs eventually leading to the championship. This time around, East Providence will be a known commodity, with every other D-II team seeking to send a message to the Townies each game day.

"We weren't the favorite last season, but after gaining some attention with how strong we finished and how we have most of our starters returning, this season we expect to have more of a target on our backs. We definitely expect to get every opponents best game whether it’s their No. 1 pitcher or just the natural intensity brought to knock off the reigning champs," Rodericks said. "I feel, realistically speaking, we have a good chance to make another deep playoff run if everyone stays healthy and we just stick to what we always do, which is try to grind out every team game by game without looking ahead."

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.