The Spring Sports schedule on Saturday, May 15th, courtesy of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League was jam packed with student-athletes competing all over the Ocean State, especially High School Baseball. After attending the Pawtucket Slaterettes Opening Day Ceremony, I decided to take the drive down to Lincoln High School’s Chet Nichols Field to watch Lincoln vs Bishop Hendricken High School. From Pawtucket, I took 95 South down to 146 North, to the Route 116/Lincoln Exit, then a short drive up to Old River Road, then right into the Lincoln High School parking lot. I parked across from the Lincoln Public Library then took the long way to the baseball field, walking towards the tennis courts.
Chet Nichols Baseball Field is the home of the Lincoln High School Lions Baseball team. The field was in amazing condition. The infield, even after teams took infield practice, looked incredible. The outfield grass was perfectly groomed. I love the outfield banner that stretches across the entirety of the field with the Lions logo seemingly coming out of that outfield banner. The weather conditions were ideal for baseball – bright blue skies, light breeze, no humidity, just a gorgeous morning for an 11am baseball game. I took a seat on a wooden bench positioned perfectly in the shade just about halfway between first base and right field.
Pre-game, I took this short video of the field and its amazing condition:
As I was writing some notes down, a few of the Lincoln High School parents came over to say hello and chat about their team. I learned that the Lincoln starting pitcher was going to be Senior Julian Horan, a Rhode Island College commit. From where I was sitting, I could see a small crowd of fans in the left field bleachers just passed the Visitor’s dugout. There were fans standing along the fence of the Home dugout as well. This spot in the shade gave me a great view of the field and game action. After a inning or so, I moved to behind home plate to get some different views of the game.
Behind the backstop, I found another bench and took a seat to watch the game. From what I observed both pitchers, Lincoln’s Horan and Bishop Hendricken’s Adam Marsh were throwing the ball well, a lot of strikes, quick innings. Their styles were a bit different – Horan, a lefty, was quiet, business like, focused whereas Marsh, a righty, was emotional, vocal, firing up his teammates. Two different styles and personalities with similar results – strikes and outs.
Runs were tough to come by early on in this game featuring two incredible baseball programs. However, I did get to see an exciting baseball play, not once but twice. The term “suicide squeeze” refers to a baseball play involving a runner at third base, who heads to the plate as soon as the pitcher goes into his windup and starts to throw to the batter. The baserunner is essentially trying to steal home. The batter must put the ball in play by bunting or slashing the bat or at least fouling the baseball off to avoid the baserunner from being tagged out at the plate. A successful “suicide squeeze” play involves timing, skill, and a little bit of luck at times. The defensive players yell out when the runner from third breaks for home, alerting the pitcher who can then alter his throw away from the batter, and potentially throw out the runner at home base. There is a lot involved offensively, defensively, and instinctually on the “suicide squeeze” play. And Lincoln High School was successful not only once, but twice on their attempts to score on the “suicide squeeze” play. I realize that home runs are majestic and awesome to watch, but for me the simple aspects of baseball are just as majestic!
I took a walk down towards the Visitor’s dugout and the left field bleacher area to get some more photos of Chet Nichols Field. Every spot I stopped at, there were fantastic views of the field. Fans had gathered in the bleachers and in lawn chairs, most of these fans were Bishop Hendricken family and friends, I believe. As I walked back towards the backstop, I couldn’t help but notice that fans were re-engaging with other fans socially. Many of them had not seen family or friends or recent graduates in months and there was a lot of catching up to do. From what I could observe, families were staying socially distant from others and some were wearing masks. Speaking of masks, the umpire, catcher, and batter were all required to wear a mask at home plate. The remainder of the players in the field, including the pitcher, from what I observed, were not wearing a mask.
I left Chet Nichols Field around the 4th inning when the score was still 2-0 Lincoln, those two runs coming on the successful suicide squeeze plays. When I checked the baseball scores later in the day, I found out that Bishop Hendricken had tied, then took the lead over Lincoln. Final score for Saturday’s game was Bishop Hendricken 4 – Lincoln High School 2. It was a spectacular day for baseball at Chet Nichols Field. Both teams played exceptional baseball, two great starting pitchers, a lot of quality at bats, and tons of baseball talent on display. I was happy to see family and friends socially engaging with each other and catching up after months and months of Zoom calls. I had a blast sitting on those perfectly positioned wooden benches located in short right field and behind home plate. It was an awesome Rhode Island Baseball Experience at Chet Nichols Field.
And the two teams from Saturday get to crank it up once again this afternoon. Bishop Hendricken High School will host Lincoln High School at Bishop Hendricken today at 4pm. Good luck to all the players, coaches, and families participating today, and the remainder of the 2021 Rhode Island High School baseball season.