Lin­coln, CALL clash again to­day

Group try­ing to win third straight dis­trict ti­tle

Woonsocket Call - - FRONT PAGE - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­

Lit­tle League ri­vals face off in DIs­trICt fi­nAls

LIN­COLN — There’s no de­tail too mi­nor for Lin­coln Lit­tle League Ma­jor Di­vi­sion all-star coach Dale O’Dell.

Even though he has one of the best Lit­tle League fa­cil­i­ties in the state – Randy Hien Field – at his dis­posal in prepa­ra­tion for tonight’s Dis­trict 4 ti­tle game against reign­ing state cham­pion Cum­ber­land Amer­i­can, O’Dell opted to drive a few miles up Old River Road to prac­tice at Al­bion Field.


Be­cause Al­bion Field has sim­i­lar di­men­sions to Smith­field’s cozy Whip­ple Field, where Lin­coln and CALL will do bat­tle at 7 p.m.

“It’s been a long week and a weird kind of ex­pe­ri­ence with only two games go­ing into [tonight],” O’Dell said prior to Fri­day night’s prac­tice. “We squeak by Cum­ber­land and then we play a good game against Woonsocket, and then we get a whole week off. The big thing for us is to try and sim­u­late as many game sit­u­a­tions as we can.

“We’ve done a pretty good job, but it’s tough be­cause no one will play us be­cause teams are ei­ther knocked out or we could see them at states if we get by the dis­tricts. We’ve just given them a lot of live at-bats and the kids throw against each other.”

Nei­ther O’Dell nor Cum­ber­land Amer­i­can coach An­thony Martin would in­di­cate who will toe the rub­ber in tonight’s game, but it’s likely that Jack LaRose will pitch against Ryan Thomp­son for the sec­ond time this tour­na­ment. Be­cause CALL needs to win twice to keep the Dis­trict 4 ti­tle, the onus is on Martin to do ev­ery­thing he can to win tonight’s game.

O’Dell is pre­par­ing to see LaRose for the sec­ond time. The lanky CALL righty al­lowed three runs and six hits in the first three in­nings of last week’s meet­ing, but he didn’t al­low a hit in the last three in­nings of a 3-2 de­feat. The first five hit­ters in Lin­coln’s or­der – Jay­den Cham­pagne, Don­avon Lopez, Thomp­son, Ryan Allen and Zach Evans – all had hits.

“It’s not re­ally a mys­tery what we’re go­ing to see,” O’Dell said. “He’s just a good pitcher and he prob­a­bly made some ad­just­ments in his own mind as the game went on. Ob­vi­ously, we don’t al­ways play our best nine kids through the whole game, so that changes things. It was just the way the game was go­ing.”

Since watch­ing O’Dell pitch around LaRose for most of that win­ners’ bracket semi­fi­nal, Martin has moved his best player to the top of the or­der, which not only en­sures he will have the most plate ap­pear­ances, but it chal­lenges the op­po­nent to pitch to him in the first in­ning with no outs. Martin also put Andy Ray, an­other player who played in Bris­tol last sum­mer, in the No. 2 hole. Diego Ben­itez and An­thony Martin III make up the top of the or­der.

O’Dell said it’s a smart move be­cause Lin­coln coach Randy Hien did the same thing with O’Dell son, stand­out Ryan O’Dell, when Lin­coln won the 2006 state ti­tle and ad­vanced to Bris­tol.

“We have to be care­ful with LaRose. Him bat­ting lead­off def­i­nitely can change the way we pitch to him,” O’Dell said. “It’s tough to pitch around a lead­off guy be­cause if he has any wheels, he’ll be at sec­ond base on any any­thing in the in­field. It’s ob­vi­ously on my mind where he hits.”

While Martin can throw LaRose, Martin III or Alex Ian­nuc­cilli over the week­end, O’Dell will start ei­ther Thomp­son or Lopez tonight. Thomp­son al­lowed two earned runs in five in­nings against CALL, while Lopez is 1-0 with a save and an ERA of 0.00 in five in­nings of Dis­trict 4 play. O’Dell also has Allen, Will De­nio, Joey Conti and Cham­pagne avail­able in re­lief.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge and it should be a fun week­end,” Martin said. “We have to play per­fect base­ball be­cause they’re a good team. No mat­ter who [Lin­coln] pitches, we have to hit the ball be­cause both of those kids are great pitch­ers. We have to bring the bats and make sure we’re play­ing de­fense.”

It was just two years ago Lin­coln came out of the losers’ bracket to de­feat CALL in the Dis­trict 4 fi­nal and go all the way to the state fi­nal. O’Dell hopes his Lin­coln squad, which has won the 10-year-old and 11-year-old state ti­tles in the last two years, can fin­ish the job tonight and take an­other step to­ward their goal of play­ing in Bris­tol.

“We’re look­ing to ob­vi­ously win every game we play,” O’Dell said. “If we don’t, then we’ll go to Plan B. I don’t want to get to Sunday – no­body does. I as­sume they’re go­ing to throw their best and we’ll see what we do. I’m not 100 per­cent sure yet. I have two or three guys who can throw very well. Our ad­van­tage is we have depth on the mound.”

Photo by Jerry Sil­ber­man / risport­

For the third straight sum­mer, Lin­coln and Cum­ber­land Amer­i­can are play­ing in the Dis­trict 4 Ma­jor Di­vi­sion fi­nal. Tonight at 7 at Whip­ple Field in Smith­field, Ryan Allen (left) and Lin­coln take on Luke Plumer (right) and CALL.

Photo by Jerry Sil­ber­man / risport­

Ryan Allen (15) and the Lin­coln Lit­tle League Ma­jor Di­vi­sion all-star team faces Jack LaRose (42) and Cum­ber­land Amer­i­can in the Dis­trict 4 fi­nal tonight in Smith­field.

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