EPHS nine gets back to business

Townies take the field for first time since 2019 with fresh faces

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/4/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School baseball team, returning to the diamond for the first time in over two years due to last year’s COVID-19 canceled season, begins its 2021 …

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EPHS nine gets back to business

Townies take the field for first time since 2019 with fresh faces

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School baseball team, returning to the diamond for the first time in over two years due to last year’s COVID-19 canceled season, begins its 2021 campaign taking a fresh start approach as the Townies do not bring back any contributors of consequence from their 2019 entry.

“With no returning varsity starters I feel we have a clean slate and can almost reinvent and rejuvenate the program,” EPHS head coach Bobby Rodericks said on the eve of the opening day 2021. “The good thing is this core group of kids has been playing together and for me since they were 13-14-years-old consistently in three fall ball seasons and this past junior (American) legion season.”

Around the infield, senior Rob Lincoln and sophomore Jack McKnight will share the shortstop and second base positions defensively and likely open the year in the Nos. 3 and 5 holes, respectively, of the batting order. Junior Matt McDuff, a transfer from LaSalle, get the opening day job at third and bats eighth. Juniors Elijah Barber and Vin Enright Jr. will split time at first. Enright bats sixth in the order and will also serve as the designated hitter when not in the field.

In the outfield, senior Andrew Mongeon and sophomore Manny Santos play left when the other isn’t catching. Mongeon bats clean-up and Santos leadoff. Senior Brian Petsch gets the nod in center and bats in the final spot of the order. Senior Brandon Landry opens in right.

Barber, a left-hander, begins the season as East Providence’s No. 1 starter. McKnight and Lincoln are also in the rotation as is another lefty, senior Ilyas Torres. Landry is the team’s late-inning closer. Barber bats seventh, Landry second and Torres ninth.

Rodericks expects Mongeon to catch Lincoln and Torres when they start and Landry in relief while Santos will receive Barber and McKnight in their outings.

As for the rest of the roster, juniors Ryan Heatherton and Jake Palumbo will likely see time in the outfield with sophomore Ziurel Vargas and freshman Kyler Lorenz being potential infielders. The two youngsters will split time at the varsity/junior varsity levels, Rodericks said, but could be called upon to play second base especially when McKnight or Lincoln are pitching.

“We have been building this core group together now since they were participants in the Townie summer baseball camp when they were in elementary school through middle school ball,” said Rodericks. “There’s a lot of excitement with baseball in the city from all three Little Leagues as they all have participated in winter clinics with myself, staff, and former Townie All-Staters of mine and some present high school ball players.”

The Townies open their 13-game Division I regular season schedule Friday afternoon, May 7, beginning a two-game set versus Mount St. Charles in Woonsocket. First pitch is 4 p.m. The Mounties visit EPHS Monday, May 10, for a rematch with the locals at Pierce Field. Game time is 3:45 p.m. The Townies then travel to Portsmouth Wednesday, May 12, for a road game against the host Patriots.

With the pandemic still a significant concern, the Interscholastic League has broken Division I into four, five-team subdivisions. East Providence is in the “I-B” grouping with Central, Chariho, Mount and South Kingstown. The Townies play those four teams twice and those in I-D (Portsmouth, Toll Gate, Ponaganset, LaSalle and Cranston West) once.

The top three teams in the subgroups qualify for the postseason, the first place teams in each earning a bye into the quarterfinals. The first and second rounds will be single elimination with the semifinalists and finalists then playing best-of-three game sets, culminating in the state championship series June 24-27.

“We are looking to hold our own and surprise some teams this season,” Rodericks said of the Townies’ 2021 prospects. “We’ll take each game one inning at a time, one pitch at a time.”

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.