CUMBERLAND — There was a lot of talk last year that the upcoming Cumberland American All-Star team had potential to be something special this season, especially after the latest batch captured the state title for 11-year-olds.
Two games into the District 4 Major Division Tournament, Cumberland American is proving it just may have what it takes to advance far this summer.
After defeating Burrillville in a 10-0 mercy-rule opener on Saturday, CALL did the same (and a little more) to Cumberland National on Tuesday night. Strong pitching from Connor Mastin and an 11-hit attack that included homers from Conor Lavallee and Jake Glod lifted Cumberland American to a 13-1 four-inning rout of National at Garvin Field.
“District play is power and pitching,” said CALL coach Dave Belisle. “You got to hit the long ball and you need the pitching. We have had both right now. In both games, we have gotten the power. We are getting contributions from up and down the line. Guys that are supposed to be bunting are laying the bunts down. Guys that are supposed to be getting the home runs are getting the home runs. I am very pleased right now.”
Lavallee and Glod each had their second round-tripper of the tourney. On the mound, Mastin was close to masterful, allowing just five hits and striking out five. He established the tone right from the start, striking out the side in the top of the first inning.
“He’s had a great year for us in the (recreation) level because I coached him,” Belisle said. “He has been doing that all year long. To do it in district play is a little different. He throws strikes. He’s starting to learn how to hit corners. He’s starting to be a real pitcher now. I thought he pitched a great game today. That’s a great lineup they have, up and down. They can hit the ball.”
Cumberland National, last year’s state champion and New England runner-up, had three of its hits in the fourth inning when it produced its lone run on a RBI single from Tony Bilieri. At that point, Cumberland American had already built a 9-0 advantage.
The National squad’s trouble began in the early innings. CALL took a 4-0 lead after two innings with three of its runs unearned, scoring on a passed ball, a wild pitch and an error.
“We mentally beat ourselves,” CNLL coach Ray Creamer said. “They are a good team. They put the bat on the ball. But we gave them some help there…We helped them with some walks. We helped them with some passed balls and some other things.”
With two outs in the bottom of the first, CALL scored twice. Mastin produced a walk off starter Cam St. Amand. He got to third on a double from Max Hanushack and scored on a throwing error. Hanushack, who was on third from the miscue, was plated on a passed ball. Cumberland American doubled its lead in the second with Tom Faltus laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt to score Lavallee. Lavallee walked to begin the inning and then made it to third on a double from Matt Murphy. Murphy scored on a wild pitch.
Cumberland American broke the game open in the third with five runs on four hits. Lavallee highlighted the frame with a solo, line-drive homer over the centerfield fence. Glod would make it another quick game for American with a three-run shot in the fourth.
Seven different players had at least a hit for CALL with Glod going 2-for-3 with three RBI and Lavallee also finishing 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI.
CNLL sent four pitchers to the mound to try and cool off its opponent’s bats.
“I love the way the kids are playing. I really, really do,” Belisle said. “We have been having great at-bats. We faced four good pitchers today and we hit the ball hard.”
Cumberland American travels to Bernon [Woonsocket] on Thursday, while Cumberland National looks to rebound with a home tilt against Burrillville at Garvin, also tomorrow. The two teams both compete in Pool B, one of two sub-divisions in the district tourney.
“I think this team [Cumberland American] is a very good team and a quality team in our bracket,” said Creamer, whose squad is 1-1 in the districts. CNLL beat North Smithfield, 5-0, on Saturday. “We just have to hope to get past Burrillville and the Bernon team. If we get past them there we can get over in the [championship] crossover round and maybe go against these guys again.”