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PAWTUCKET â€” The Connie Mack Baseball League has always taken a back seat to American Legion baseball during the summer months. And thatâ€™s too bad because there are some good players performing in relative anonymity inside the 12-team Rhode Island organization.
Elmwood Sports, which features players from Pawtucket and Central Falls, showed off some of its talent during a 2-0 victory over West Warwick in a first-round playoff game on Monday evening at McConnon Field. Bryan Quinlan knocked in both runs to back Andrew Larsonâ€™s shutout pitching.
Larson is a familiar name to city baseball fans, having been one of the key pitchers on Tolman Highâ€™s playoff team this past spring. Quinlanâ€™s name should emerge next spring when he becomes a member of Sheaâ€™s varsity squad. The 15-year-old rising junior is a transfer from St. Raphael Academy.
â€śAndrew has pitched very well for us,â€ť Elmwood co-coach Vic Silva said. â€śThis team has been blessed with very good pitching.â€ť
Quinlan and Brad McParlin have also thrown the ball well for Elmwood, which compiled a 13-7 regular season record.
Mondayâ€™s game was highlighted by the efficient pitching of Larson and West Warwickâ€™s Ryan Lawton, a lanky righthander who throws hard. The home team took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when McParlin singled and Quinlan doubled him home.
The game sped along rather quickly until the sixth inning. Lawton finally gave some ground in the bottom of the inning. Larry Cruz singled with one out and stole second base. Anthony Rivera then walked. Both runners moved up on Lawtonâ€™s wild pickoff throw to first base.
After Will Soto struck out, McParlin worked a walk to load the bases. Quinlan grounded to third base but the throw to second base for an inning-ending forceout went low and was dropped, allowing Cruz to score an insurance run.
West Warwick sent its 3-4-5 hitters up in the seventh inning. Brent Reed flied out to deep left fielder Soto. Lawton then doubled up the left-center field gap. Larson hardly blinked, getting Rich Grenier to ground out to shortstop Cruz and then ending the game with a pop fly that first baseman Tyler Pineda caught on the run near home plate.
â€śWeâ€™ve got some good players on this team,â€ť said Jim LaRose, Elmwoodâ€™s other coach. â€śConnie Mack has been around a long time in Pawtucket. The kids on our team choose to play Connie Mack ball. Itâ€™s a nice league with good competition.â€ť
LaRose and Silva both coach college baseball at Johnson & Wales University. LaRoseâ€™s son Zachary served as designated hitter for Elmwood.
â€śMy brother John is the head coach at Johnson & Wales,â€ť Jim LaRose said. â€śWe both played for Shea High back in the 1980s. I graduated in 1984 and John graduated in 1987. Vic (Silva) and I decided to coach the Elmwood team this year. It has been a lot of fun.â€ť
Elmwood advances to a best-of-three quarterfinal-round series on Thursday against the winner of the Swansea-Slocum preliminary-round game.
â€śOur first game might be at Shea High on Thursday,â€ť LaRose said.