CUMBERLAND — Perhaps the only thing Cumberland American's All-Stars didn't do as a team Wednesday night was hit for the cycle.
There were no triples, but it didn't really matter much.
Manager Dave Belisle's contingent amassed 15 hits, including four doubles and a dinger, and took advantage of eight errors as CALL posted an astonishingly-lopsided 22-5 “mercy-rule” victory over East Woonsocket's best in the R.I. Little League District IV Major Division (10-11) Tournament championship game at Garvin Field.
Belisle's No. 6, 7 and 8 batters in the lineup – including Sean Meers, Johnny Belisle and Brendan Wright, not to mention “subs” Tyler Shaw and Trey Thibeault – finished 6-for-9 with nine RBI and another nine runs scored as CALL remained unbeaten (7-0) in district action.
“Those guys have done that the whole tournament,” Belisle grinned after the awards ceremony, one in which each player and coach received a commemorative pin, as well as the District IV championship banner. “From top to bottom, we're a tough out, but those guys went above and beyond. We don't have any holes in our offense, so we had ourselves a great tournament.”
With the triumph, CALL now will ready itself for the state event, and will face a team still to be determined at 10 a.m., Saturday at the King Philip Little League diamond in Bristol. East Woonsocket closed the tourney at 4-3 overall.
The game had postponed from Tuesday to Wednesday evening due to the late-afternoon thunderstorms pelting the area, but that evidently didn't matter much to Belisle's group. Meers led the squad, going 2-for-3 with a two-bagger, walk, four RBI and three runs scored, while C.J. Davock went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and four runs.
See CALL, page C3
Among the other mainstays (and there were several): Wright (1-for-2, homer, three RBI and a run); Thibeault (2-for-2, RBI, two runs); the younger Belisle (1-for-1, free bag, two runs, RBI); Trey Bourque (1-for-4, RBI, three runs); Tyler Provost (2-for-4, pair of RBI, run); Jayden Struble (1-for-2, two walks, hit by pitch, RBI, three runs); and Nick Croteau (2-for-4, RBI, run).
“Sean Meers is an RBI producer,” the elder Belisle noted. “Our 3-4-5-6 batters are all big run producers for us. Our first two guys (Croteau and Bourque) get on base and set up the next four, who get the RBI, but then the bottom of the lineup comes up with big hits. That's why Nick and Trey (Bourque) get their fair share of RBI.
“But we also play great defense,” he added. “We've been cutting down (opponents) at the plate or at third; we've been pretty much flawless, but we've also received really solid pitching.”
The righty Croteau started and didn't allow a hit in the first two frames (though he did issue a walk and hit a batter) and fanned a pair. Actually, reliever Davock didn't do badly himself, yielding two hits and four walks while whiffing a quartet.
One offering that went awry, however, led to Logan Coles' impressive grand-slam “tater” in the back half of the third.
If there was any doubt among the 200-plus fans who attended which club would receive the post-game banner, however, it didn't last long. CALL rallied for six runs in the top of the first to immediately take control.
It started innocently enough, when righthander Nason Ramos walked Croteau, and Bourque sacrifice-bunted him to second. Davock plated Croteau with a single to left, but an outfield error allowed him to scamper to third. After Struble took a base on balls, Davock scored on a passed ball, and – after Struble robbed third – he came in on another.
Ramos caught Provost looking at a called third strike for the second out, but Ramos walked Meers and Belisle before surrendering to Wright a towering, three-run shot over the center-field fence.
CALL manufactured another half-dozen in the second; Bourque reached on a one-out, infield miscue before Davock and Struble walked to fill the bases once more. That's when EW mentor Kevin McGuire replaced Ramos with fellow righty Isaiah Lee, who immediately allowed Provost a hit up the middle to plate Bourque, and Meers' opposite-field two-bagger down the right-field line to score Davock and Struble.
Belisle's single drove in Provost, and American notched two more on infield errors.
The top of the third easily proved to be CALL's most impressive, as it sent 14 to the boxes. Highlights included Bourque racing home on a wild pitch; Meers' two-run hit to center; Thibeault's RBI single to left; and run-scoring doubles by Bourque and Struble.
After that frame, Belisle's bunch held a whopping 21-0 cushion.
It didn't last long, though. After Davock struck out leadoff batter Tommy Murphy, his teammates picked him up. Eric Buxton recorded EW's first hit of the game with a knock down the right-field line, and Kyle Deluca and Lee both walked to juice the bags.
With two down, Brad Plamondon drew another walk to plate Buxton to ruin CALL's shutout bid, and that's when Coles steamed his “granny” over the center-field fence.
Cumberland American mustered a final run in the fourth when Thibeault singled, took second on Mason Matos' fielder's choice, raced to third on Croteau's hit and scored on Davock's single to center.
Davock allowed just a walk to Murphy before retiring the side.
All told, EW committed eight errors.
“We had too many mistakes defensively,” McGuire said afterward. “We've definitely played better ball. It just wasn't our night, but I can tell you this is the best group of kids I've ever coached. The kids have a lot of heart and they work very hard. We have tons of hours of practice, and they play tough.
“The result isn't always equal to the effort, but the bottom line is they always come ready to play, and play with will and purpose. I just think we lost to a really good club, one that's very well-coached and disciplined. It doesn't hurt them they hit the ball so well.
“I will say this,” he added. “This is the first time East Woonsocket history that we've made it to the District IV final, and it's a credit to all of the work they've put in. I'm more than proud of each anjd every one of these kids.”
Mentioned the skipper Belisle: “I'm a little surprised by the 22 runs we scored, especially since we faced East Woonsocket in our third game (at Hartnett Field) and won it, 7-1. It was a good game, no doubt, but I'm proud of the way we responded (Wednesday).
“The competition in our district is always strong, and it always prepares you well for states. Now we're going to Bristol, and we want to show the other teams in the state what we're made of.”