EAST PROVIDENCE â€” Itâ€™s been quite some time since Collette Vacations Post 79 enjoyed a nine-game win streak or found itself two wins away from a state championship, but thatâ€™s the state of the Pawtucket ballclub heading into tonightâ€™s 8 p.m. winnersâ€™ bracket final at McCarthy Stadium.
Eric Geisman gave a splendid performance on the mound and Post 79 did just enough offensively to help produce a 4-1 victory over Cumberland Post 14 on Thursday night in their semifinal-round game at Pierce Field.
Collette, the fifth seed in the tourney, will take on the survivor of the winnersâ€™ bracket semifinal between No. 3 seed Gershkoff/Auburn Post 20 of Cranston and second-seeded R&R Construction of Portsmouth that took place late last night in West Warwick.
Top-seeded Post 14, meanwhile, will try to stay alive in the tourney today at 2 p.m. when it battles No. 6 seed New England Frozen Lemonade/Shields Post 43 in an elimination game that kicks off a tripleheader at McCarthy.
The 5 p.m. game is also an elimination game that features fourth-seeded Hurd Auto Mall of Johnston battling the loser of the Gershkoff/Auburn-R&R game.
Post 79, which hasnâ€™t lost a ballgame since dropping the opener of a regular-season doubleheader with Post 14 back on July 16, only collected four hits in the game, but got the job done defensively and on the hill with Geisman.
â€śFour hits were enough tonight,â€ť Collette manager Ray Ventura added with a smile. â€śThe bottom line is we won the game, weâ€™re in a good spot, and weâ€™re having some fun. This teamâ€™s really playing well.â€ť
Ironically, Geismanâ€™s last outing was that late regular-season loss to Post 14. Geisman didnâ€™t have his best stuff that day and only lasted four innings, but in Thursdayâ€™s playoff game, the Shea High graduate rose to the occasion.
Not only did he scatter seven hits, he struck out four, allowed just two walks, and finished the game strong, retiring his final 10 batters.
â€śEric pitched a fantastic game,â€ť said Ventura. â€śHe had a bad outing last time, but he never has two bad ones in a row, and tonight, he really came through big time.â€ť
Geisman was also backed nicely by his defense, which saw Joe Brooks make a few solid plays at shortstop, right fielder Andrew Veiga turn in a nice diving catch in the last inning, and a strong 7-6-5 relay started by left fielder Jackson Gervais prevent Post 14â€™s Joe Landi from stretching a double into a triple.
As for the offense, Collette made the most out of its low number of hits, with the first two being two-out, extra-base hits that produced the first two runs.
Post 79 drew first blood in the top of the first inning off Post 14 starter Kyle Morvan, when with two gone, Dom DiSano worked a walk and raced home on a long double to the fence in left field by Nate Patch that left fielder Kyle Jackson nearly gloved on the run.
Collette then doubled its lead in the third on a two-out triple to left by DiSano that plated Brooks, who walked with one out. DiSanoâ€™s triple, a sinking liner to left, was almost caught by a diving attempt by Jackson, but when his dive came up short, the ball bounced past him and went to the fence.
In the third, Morvanâ€™s night was done, when with one gone, Collette loaded the bases on a sharp leadoff single up the middle by Max Perry and walks to Veiga and Nick Gagnon.
Post 14 manager Jim Dawber brought in Landi to silence the threat, but Post 79 was able to score a run on a sacrifice fly to right by Gervais.
Cumberland, meanwhile, stranded a half dozen runners on base through the first five innings, but in the sixth, they were able to cut into Colletteâ€™s lead.
The first batter of the inning, Tyler Santaniello, lofted an infield fly to the right side of the infield that was dropped and rolled near the bleachers. Santaniello, who was running hard to first, was able to speed into second without a throw.
Santaniello then headed to third when Nick Zammarelli beat out a bunt single to the right of the mound, and he scored when Jackson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
But Collette got that run back the following inning when Zach Mitsmenn led off with a base hit to right, stole second, went to second on a passed ball, and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Joe Hamilton.