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CUMBERLAND â€” Must-win pressure? Cumberland American showed zero signs of it on Wednesday night in its Pool A finale against Scituate-Foster.
Needing a victory to cement a spot in Fridayâ€™s District 4 Major Division semifinals at Ayotte Field, CALL cruised to its third triumph in four games by mercy-ruling S-F, 14-3, in four innings at Garvin Field.
Derek Knobloch stole the show for CALL with a mammoth night at the plate that saw him go 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of home runs, four runs scored, and six runs batted in. His three-run, opposite-field blast to left on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the fourth inning enforced the 10-run rule that ended the contest.
CALLâ€™s reward for winning is an 8 p.m. matchup against defending District IV champion Burrillville, which concluded Pool B play with a 4-0 record by belting Glocester, 13-1, in their finale. Lincoln (4-0 in Pool A) will face Cumberland National (3-1 in Pool B) in the 5:30 p.m. opener, and the winners of these games will battle each other for the championship on Sunday.
Had Scituate-Foster, which entered the game with a 1-2 record, defeated CALL, Scituate-Foster would have earned second place in the pool and the berth opposite Burrillville, because both teams would have been 2-2 with S-F owning the head-to-head tiebreaker.
But CALL was determined to not let that happen. The hosts used a seven-run rally in the second inning and the dominant four-hit pitching of starter Adam Bertherman and reliever Joe Leonard to put away their visitors.
Bertherman, who last worked in last Wednesdayâ€™s 16-0 victory over East Woonsocket, was on a 35-pitch limit as he took the mound for the top of the first inning. When he reached it with two outs in the top of the third, he did so to the delight of Scituate-Foster, which couldnâ€™t do anything with his offerings. Bertherman struck out seven of the first eight batters he faced and lost a no-hit bid when No. 9 batter Alex Yaw dropped a 3-2 pitch into right field for a base hit.
Leonard then came in, but got off to a rocky start, allowing three straight hits, one of them a three-run homer to left by Billy Butler. But he settled down to retire the next four batters he faced, the first two on strikeouts and the last two on tappers back to mound.
Before Butlerâ€™s homer, CALL found itself with a comfortable 9-0 lead, with the first two runs coming on a two-run homer to center by Knobloch.
No. 9 batter Joe Molis kicked off the second-inning rally with a home run, and after a walk and an error, CALL collected four straight singles off the bats of Knobloch, Tyler Bourque, Leonard, and Aidan Bagley. Knoblochâ€™s hit, another opposite-field shot to left, made it a 4-0 game, and after Bourque blooped a single to center, Leonard lined a two-run single to right and Bagley drove in a run with a hard-hit shot up the middle. Leonard and Bagley later scored on wild pitches.
After S-F got on the board, CALL got two runs back in its half of the fourth, with one of them scoring on a double to the gap in left-center by Bagley, to make it an 11-3 game.
CALL finished the game with 11 hits off four different S-F pitchers, and the winners also took advantage of eight walks, four wild pitches, three errors, and three passed balls. In addition to Knoblochâ€™s superb game and Bagleyâ€™s two run-scoring hits, leadoff batter Joe Colucci also went 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24