Lin­coln al­lows five runs in fi­nal in­ning, elim­i­nated with loss

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - Pho­tos by ERNEST A. BROWN

Lit­tle League play­offs con­tin­ued on Wednes­day at Randy Hien Field, as Smith­field faced Lin­coln in the 10-year-old di­vi­sion. RIGHT: Lin­coln pitcher Ja­cob Har­ris (33) throws against Smith­field in the top of the first in­ning at Randy Hien Field Tues­day evening. ABOVE: Smith­field short­stop Ja­cob Sylvester (5) slides into sec­ond base be­fore the tag by Lin­coln short­stop Jake Lonardo (13) in the top of the third in­ning at Randy Hien Field Tues­day evening.

LIN­COLN — Base­ball doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate.

It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re a hard­ened Ma­jor League Base­ball vet­eran or a child play­ing Lit­tle League for the first time, the sport can be down­right cruel.

The Lin­coln Lit­tle League 10-year-old al­ls­tar team learned that les­son in Wednes­day night’s District 4 losers’ bracket fi­nal against vis­it­ing Smith­field at Hien Field. With Smith­field down to its last strike, Lin­coln al­lowed six straight base run­ners, five of which scored, as the vis­i­tors earned an 8-5 come-from-be­hind vic­tory.

“Ab­so­lutely, base­ball can be tough,” Lin­coln coach TJ Mellen said. “We thought we had it. We were one strike away twice, but that’s why you play un­til the last out.

“The kids bat­tled and I’m proud of them for that. We were hop­ing to go a lit­tle fur­ther to get more sum­mer ball out of them. Now, the goal is to stick to­gether and play a few more tour­na­ments and get bet­ter. Go from there.”

Smith­field will be back home at Whip­ple Field to play in Satur­day’s District 4 fi­nal against Bur­ril­lville at 1 p.m. That’s the good news, the bad news for Smith­field is Bur­ril­lville won the first meet­ing last month at Peck Field, 15-1. Bur­ril­lville has outscored its first three op­po­nents 30-7. If Smith­field wins Satur­day, the teams will re­con­vene at Whip­ple Sun­day for a win­ner-take-all bat­tle.

Lin­coln was hop­ing to earn an­other shot at Bur­ril­lville af­ter drop­ping a 3-2 de­ci­sion Satur­day night at Peck Field. Just like in that con­test, Lin­coln led Wednes­day’s game late, only to see a cou­ple of walks and de­fen­sive mis­takes al­low Smith­field to stay alive in the tour­na­ment.

Lin­coln re­lief pitcher Jake Lonardo struck out the first two bat­ters of the sixth in­ning on just six pitches. Lead­off hit­ter CJ Blakely faced a 2-2 count with his team trail­ing by two runs and even­tu­ally earned a walk. Tyler Guil­foyle fol­lowed with a sin­gle. Blakely made it a one-run game on a wild pitch and Guil­foyle scored on a Cameron Caprio sin­gle. Caprio, catcher Parker Boyd (in­field sin­gle) and Ryan Ca­vanagh (sin­gle) also scored on wild pitches to put Smith­field up three.

The home side re­ceived hits from Nick Gan­non and Zach Tyler in the sixth in­ning, but Scott Ni­coll grounded out to sec­ond base to end the con­test.

“All I said to them was that they worked hard and that it’s not over. All of them want to keep play­ing to­gether in tour­na­ments this sum­mer,” Mellen said. “The good thing about this group is they’ll for­get about this to­mor­row. I told them that in life, tough losses bal­ance them­selves out and they’ll be on the good side of one of these. You try to learn some­thing from the loss.”

Lonardo took the loss, but he pitched well in re­lief of Ja­cob Har­ris, who struck out five and al­lowed two runs in 2.2 in­nings. Lonardo struck out nine bat­ters and al­lowed just two hits in three in­nings of work. Of­fen­sively, first base­man Lu­cas Mar­shall led the way with a hit, three RBIs and a run scored. Lonardo added an RBI hit and a run scored.

Smith­field re­ceived a two-run sin­gle from Boyd in the third in­ning to open the scor­ing, but then Lin­coln ex­ploded for all five of its runs against Caprio in its half of the third in­ning.

Re­serve Ryan Le­mery started the in­ning with a walk and moved into scor­ing po­si­tion on a sin­gle by Luke Mar­chard. Catcher Bren­nan Robert loaded the bases with a walk and Mar­shall fol­lowed with a boom­ing dou­ble down the right-field line to clear the bases and give Lin­coln its first lead of the game. Lonardo fol­lowed with an RBI sin­gle and he scored later in the in­ning on a wild pitch.

“I think we’re a very con­ta­gious of­fen­sive team, in that sense that when we’re hit­ting, ev­ery­one’s hit­ting,” Mellen said. “When they’re not hit­ting, it seems to be in­fec­tious. That’s one of the things we have to learn from; even if some of our bet­ter hit­ters aren’t hit­ting, that shouldn’t change our ap­proach at the plate.”

While Lin­coln only recorded two hits over the fi­nal three in­nings, Smith­field man­aged to score six runs over the fi­nal three in­nings even though the road side struck out eight times.

Caprio walked and scored in the fifth in­ning to cut Smith­field’s deficit to two and then the vis­i­tors – down the their fi­nal strike on two oc­ca­sions – scored five times in the sixth to keep Lin­coln from send­ing all three of its all-star teams to Whip­ple Satur­day.

“We had it,” Mellen said. “We had them down to their last strike. The kids played great, we were just on the wrong end. Our pitch­ers did a good job, but give credit to Smith­field for com­ing back. It was a bloop here, a hit there and a walk and that’s the game.”

Smith­field 020 015 – 8 7 1 Lin­coln 050 000 – 5 6 3 Cameron Caprio, CJ Blakely (3) and Parker Boyd; Ja­cob Har­ris, Jake Lonardo (3), Luke Marc­hand (6) and Bren­nan Robert; 2B – S, Tyler Guil­foyle; L, Lu­cas Mar­shall.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Lin­coln 10-year-old all-star first base­man Lu­cas Mar­shall launched a three-run dou­ble in the third in­ning of Wednes­day’s game, but Smith­field came back to earn a 8-5 vic­tory at Hien Field.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Lin­coln’s Jake Lonardo (13) slides back into third base safely in the third in­ning, as Smith­field’s Alex LaPorte catches the throw. Smith­field earned an 8-5 losers’ bracket fi­nal win Wednes­day.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Lin­coln lead­off hit­ter Luke Mar­chard is thrown out at first base in the first in­ning of Wednes­day’s 10-year-old District 4 losers bracket fi­nal. Even though Marc­hand had a hit and drove in a run, Smith­field came back to earn an 8-5 vic­tory at Hien Field.

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