PAWTUCKET — Darlington American’s 2011 Major Division All-Stars revived some memories of league’s illustrious District II history on Thursday with a 10-0 mercy rule romp over Riverside in the playoff opener for both teams.
DALL broke open a 0-0 game in the bottom of the third inning with a seven-run explosion that featured three home runs. Leadoff hitter Elliot Vadnais, cleanup batter Sean Dunphy and No. 9 batter Nick Crawley all homered as the home team sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning.
Vadnais’s homer led off the frame and ignited his teammates. Dunphy’s blast came after a one-out walk to winning pitcher Dylan Boisclair and made it a 3-0 game. And then Crawley connected with the bases full, sending a long drive over the centerfield fence to give the Americans a 7-0 lead off Riverside starter Tyler Midelfort.
Darlington then closed the game out with another burst in the bottom of the fourth inning. Manager Ed Dunphy went to his three reserve players and got production from each. Kyle DePatie led off with a single. Ben Capela and Ryan Carrion both walked to load the bases. Two Riverside miscues brought in a pair of runs and then Tai Truong walked with the bases loaded to achieve the 10-run margin that results in the mercy rule.
Boisclair allowed only one hit in four innings on the mound, a grounder back through the middle with two outs in the top of the fourth. The rangy righthander struck out six batters. After giving up his only hit to Aaron Schneiderest, Boisclair walked the bases loaded before striking out Matt Conrad to end the inning.
“We have some kids who can swing the bat,” Ed Dunphy said after the game ended. “This game was a nail-biter for two innings and then our kids got their confidence going and began taking some good swings.”
Darlington American, a program that has won 17 District II titles over the years (the last in 2000), played good defense behind Boisclair. Riverside’s Tyler Midelfort reached base in the first inning and stole second base, then tried to take third base when DALL catcher Nick Crawley threw the ball back to Boisclair, who tossed it quickly to third baseman Sean Dunphy for the putout on Midelfort.
That precise defensive execution spoke to the all-around performance of this Darlington American team. Vadnais displayed good range and a strong arm from his shortstop position. Second baseman Brennan Dunphy handled the first ground ball of the game with sure hands and accurate throw, something that can’t be taken for granted in Little League playoff games, where the pressure is thick until the players relax.
Boisclair took most of the load on his shoulders in the second inning, striking out the side while pitching around an error. The righthander did walk four batters in as many innings, something that he can work on before his next start.
Vadnais paced the offense with a single and home run while first baseman Brendan Aldridge singled twice. Dezzy Lorenzo added a sacrifice bunt and base hit in his two trips to the plate. Ray Aponte added a single. DALL collected nine hits in all and also worked enough counts to draw seven walks.
Darlington American will be home again next Tuesday when it hosts Barrington, which had a bye in the first round.