SMITHFIELD TOPS LINCOLN
Lincoln allows five runs in final inning, eliminated with loss
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.
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.
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.
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.