Members of the Pineview Big League team, pictured, front row, from left: Alex Lopez, Adam Ghazal Middle: Coach Zack Taber, David Mejia, Bryan Quinlan, Sean Feeney, Jasiah Hatch, Jared Cardosa, Anthony DiBiasio, Corey Hughes, Heriberto Rodriguez. Back row, from left: Coach Peter Gray, Coach Tom Bilodeau, Steven Otis, CJ Woods, Brandon Canuto, Seth Larbi, Ricky Bourdeau, Keith Grant, Evan Santos, Manager Joe Clark.
PAWTUCKET – It’s become a given. No, make that an expectation.
When the calendar reads the second weekend in July, you will find Pineview Manager Joe Clark and his Big League ballclub traveling to Dover, Del. to represent Rhode Island in the Eastern Regional Tournament. Eight times in the past 11 years, Pineview has ventured down Interstate 95 to participate in a double-elimination format that features nine teams. Most of the competition hails from the Mid-Atlantic with Massachusetts and Connecticut also sending representatives.
The 2014 regionals get underway this Saturday, albeit with a cloak-and-dagger element to them.
Reached earlier this week, Clark pointed out that Pineview wouldn’t learn about its draw until Friday’s pre-tournament festivities. Case in point, the Pawtucket-based squad could wind up taking the field as part of the first game of the day at noontime or any time after that. The last game is scheduled for 7:30 at night – albeit with finger’s crossed.
“We have a team welcome dinner followed by a manager’s meeting. Then we pull the bracket. It’s the only one in Little League that does it when you get there,” Clark said. “I’ve been in the final game (on the initial day of regional play) before. Sometimes it’s gone off at 9 o’clock depending on what goes on throughout the day.”
Regarding the makeup of the latest Pineview contingent that is making the pilgrimage to Delaware – the plan is to depart in the wee hours of Friday morning in effort to minimize the headache of sitting in New York City rush-hour traffic – Clark feels that nothing or no one automatically jumps out when analyzing the 2014 version. Simply put, it’s a squad that’s solid across the board.
“We have good pitching and defense and solid baserunning. We don’t have anyone who’s going to hit the ball 400 feet out of the park, but we make solid contact one through nine,” Clark stated. “Of the 17 guys, 13 can throw and I would be confident to put any one of them out there. Little League pitch count rules limit you so everyone has to be ready. We have a 105 (pitch) max and anything over 30 is at least one day (of rest) and 45 is two days.”
As usual, Pineview features a mix of players with ties to Tolman and Shea high schools. Leading the charge is Bryan Quinlan, a 2013 Shea graduate who appeared in 11 games this spring for Johnson & Wales. By design, Clark refrained from using Quinlan on the mound during the regular season in an effort to save him for the state playoffs and the Eastern Regionals should Pineview qualify.
Clark’s move to keep Quinlan, who was also participating in Newport’s George Donnelly Sunset League, under wraps worked perfectly. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds on Johnson & Wales’ website, Quinlan pitched twice during the states and was on the hill last Wednesday when Pineview soared to a title-clinching 7-2 triumph over Exeter/West Greenwich-East Greenwich’s best. The right-hander walked just one with six strikeouts in a complete-game effort that required 105 pitches.
“His last pitch was as good as his first,” Clark pointed out.
The lineup features plenty of familiar names with Steven Otis and David Mejia at the top of the list. Otis is the No. 2 hitter and is heading into his senior year at Tolman while Mejia, a junior-in-waiting at Shea, bats third. In the cleanup spot is Otis’ classmate, Alex Lopez, with recent Tolman grad Corey Hughes hitting fifth. Two more players with connections to Tolman are also Pineview lineup regulars in Richard Bourdeau and Adam Ghazal.
Pineview’s leadoff hitter is Jasiah Hatch, one of three players hailing from the East Providence High squad that last month captured the Interscholastic League Division II baseball championship. With Riverside Post 10 not fielding an American Legion Senior Division squad this summer, players such as Hatch and fellow Townies C.J. Woods and Keith Grant were looking for a place to play. Naturally, Clark welcomed them with open arms.
“C.J. and Keith are two of the better pitchers in the state and Jasiah is a fantastic leadoff hitter and center fielder,” said Clark about the treasure trove of area baseball riches that practically fell in his lap. “They are all great kids and they fit right in with this team. It was instant chemistry with them. I can’t tell you how huge it will be to have them when we go down to Dover.”
Pineview went a respectable 2-2 in last year’s regional. Though the team is definitely making the trek, donations are greatly welcomed. Generosity has already been extended from Pineview officials and Clark is hopeful that area businesses will step up to the plate.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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