Northmen fall in D-III finals again

Northmen fall in D-III finals again

Holding the Division III runner-up plaque are, from left, North Smithfield head coach Jon Leddy and senior captains and three-year starters Jack Losardo, Adam Blakemore, and Devin Albino. For the second straight season, the Northmen fell in a winner-take-all game for the championship, this time losing to Mount Pleasant, 13-1. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Baseball team suffers lopsided loss to Mount Pleasant in winner-take-all clash

WEST WARWICK – An afternoon after putting up 13 runs to hand Mount Pleasant its first loss in the Division III double-elimination playoffs, the North Smithfield High baseball team was limited to five hits in Sunday’s winner-take-all showdown for the championship and ended up suffering a 13-1 loss to the Kitlies at McCarthy Field.

Mount Pleasant, which was the fourth seed in the playoffs, posted a 6-2 victory over the top-seeded Northmen in N.S.’s tournament opener, and from there, they had to win the rest of their games. They beat Hope, 5-4, and Classical, 7-0, to earn a rematch with the Kilties in last Saturday’s winners’ bracket final, and then came up big in posting a 13-7 victory at Rhode Island College.

“We were the top seed, but we knew that any of the (top) four teams could have been the number one seed,” said North Smithfield head coach Jon Leddy, whose ballclub went 15-3 to share the regular-season title with Rogers and Classical, while Mount Pleasant finished behind them at 14-4. “It was a tough battle to win four straight after losing (the first game), but they battled hard. They played well (last Saturday) and I thought we had some momentum, but that’s baseball.”

In Sunday’s game, Michael deRonde was on the hill for North Smithfield, but he did not have his best stuff, as the Kilties jumped on him early for two runs. He lasted five-plus innings and faced three batters in the sixth, but was not able to get an out. The Kilties broke the game open in that inning by scoring six times to take a 10-1 lead.

“(deRonde) has been good for us all season,” Leddy said. “That’s one of the things with coming out of the loser’s bracket; you have minimal arms left when you’re at this point, so we knew it was going to be a battle. There’s not much you can do.”

Down by a 2-0 score, North Smithfield scored its run in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Devin Albino, who had two of the Northmen’s five hits off Mount Pleasant pitcher Sanllery Perez, hit a high bouncer past the third baseman for a single. He advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a line single to right-center by Jack Lepage.

Last Saturday’s victory saw the Northmen collect 13 hits and erase a 1-0 deficit by scoring three times in the top of the second. The Kilties came back to tie the score at 3-3, but the Northmen took the lead back for good with five runs in the fifth, three more in the sixth, and two in the seventh.

Leading the way offensively were the top two batters in the lineup, Dan Beauchemin and deRonde, who teamed up to collect nine hits and four runs batted in.

Quinn Parent also dominated on the mound for the Northmen. He came out in the seventh inning after reaching his pitch count, but pitched 6 2/3 innings, gave up seven runs on seven hits and four walks, and struck out four. Jack Losardo eventually finished out the game with a flyout, and when Beauchemin caught the final out in center field, the excitement was there for the Northmen, who knew its season was not yet over. It seemed the momentum was in their hands.

“I thought so too,” Leddy said. “But there was a good pitcher out there on the hill (on Sunday). I thought we hit him decently early, but we were hitting right at them and we just didn’t come through with a big hit when we needed to.”

The Northmen, who also lost in last year’s winner-take-all title game with Classical by a 12-2 score, finish their season with an overall record of 18-5.

“We had a very good season,” Leddy said. “We started off 14-0 and then we lost three straight, but we were able to rebound a little bit coming into the playoffs. It’s a little bittersweet. I’m losing five great seniors, so it’s a tough pill to swallow for a little bit, but we’ll look back on it as a good season.”

North Smithfield catcher Devin Albino, left, is unable to jump and catch a throw that bounced off the plate and sailed to the backstop as Mount Pleasant runner Sanllery Perez slides headfirst across the plate during last Saturday afternoon’s Division III playoff game at Rhode Island College. The Northmen forced a winner-take-all game by posting a 13-7, but lost the following day to the Kilties, 13-1.