Babe Ruth season hits midway point

Babe Ruth season hits midway point

KFC runner Nick Dowell, left, gets ready to slide across the dirt-covered plate and score on a passed ball, as Genesis Construction pitcher Vincent Zullo races in to field the late throw there during the second inning of last Wednesday night’s North Providence-Smithfield Babe Ruth League game at North Providence High. KFC raised its record to 6-1 by posting an 8-6 victory. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Three-time champion KFC holds slim lead in North Providence-Smithfield standings

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The three-time defending North Providence-Smithfield Babe Ruth League champion KFC is making a bid for a “four-peat” this season, and after last Thursday night’s action – and with the regular season hitting its midway point – KFC is atop the standings with a 6-1 mark.

Pauly Penta’s Deli, which was last year’s regular-season champion, is a game behind KFC at 5-2, and FOP Lodge 13, which won just one game last year, is a game and a half behind KFC at 4-2. Admiral is right behind FOP at 3-2, Genesis Construction is 2-6, and Barone’s Construction has not won any of its seven games.

Last year, KFC head coach Brendan Walker took over for his father, Mike Walker, and kept the team’s winning tradition alive. Walker said that he lost about four 15-year-olds from last year in the 13-15-year-old league, but KFC now has five new 13-year-olds and two new 15-year olds to round out the team.

“Both our MVPs from last year are back in Mark Catone and Roger Marano,” Walker said.

He added that a lot of the players on their team were on the La Salle Academy freshman baseball team, while two players were on the North Providence High junior varsity team. And with the championship series being played in high school baseball for D-I and D-II this week, all the players are back and playing Babe Ruth full-time.

The Babe Ruth season began on Thursday, May 3, and will run through the end of June before the All-Star break. The league still holds six teams, but with a new sponsor, and replacing what had been LL Data Design is Genesis Construction, which is still coached by Eric Seaberg.

Last Wednesday, KFC faced off against Genesis. Seaberg said that his team has seen a season of ups and downs so far and not really had its starting nine players altogether in the lineup at the same time because of high school baseball and other commitments.

Now that the high school baseball season is basically over, the players are back, and the pitching should improve as well.

Despite not having most of its starters, KFC still pulled off an 8-6 victory over Genesis. Jordan Tobin was on the hill for the defending champs, and after giving up two runs in the first inning, he settled down nicely and watched his team provide him with a 4-2 lead in the second inning.

KFC lost its season opener, 13-11, to Pauly Penta, but answered back with its six-game win streak that includes three victories by nine or more runs.

“We’ve had good pitching,” reported Walker. “The other night, our pitcher, Nate Potter, struck out 13 of 15 guys. And we’ve had good fielding.”

Potter is new to the team and has also been catching for them, and offensively, both John DeCarmo and Preston Cunha have been standing out.

“John has been crushing the ball, with two inside-the-park home runs and seven RBIs,” Walker said. “He’s carrying the load offensively. And Preston has had at least two hits every game. He is consistent for us.”

On KFC, everyone has been pulling their weight.

“The young guys are making the plays to help the older guys out,” Walker said.

The only other game that took place last week was FOP’s 10-4 victory over Barone last Thursday night. FOP needed extra innings to pull off the win, as well as six-run rally in the top of the eighth that saw Jacob Hall break the tie with a bases-loaded walk and Joe Pitrone highlight the inning with a bases-clearing triple.

Pitrone, who was the winning pitcher, had three hits and reached base five times, Alex Cadden’s RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning helped Barone send the game into extra innings.

As schools close and the season gets deeper, there will be more games played during the week, with some Thursdays and the weekends as off days. There will be two games a night, at 5:15 and 7:30 p.m., at the North Providence High baseball field.

And of course, the goal of every team is to get to the championship series and win it.

“We want to finish the year strong and play our best baseball entering the playoffs,” said Walker. “But it’s one game at a time.”

KFC pitcher Jordan Tobin gets ready to deliver a pitch to the plate during the second inning of last Wednesday night’s game against Genesis Construction. KFC posted an 8-6 victory that improved its first-place record to 6-1.