Difficult defeat for Woonsocket

Difficult defeat for Woonsocket

Woonsocket shortstop Shayne Godin gets ready to swing at a fastball during last Friday night’s District IV winners’ bracket final against Lincoln, which was won by the host team, 11-0. Woonsocket faced defending state champion Cumberland American in Wednesday night’s losers’ bracket final. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Loss to Lincoln sends Major Division all-stars into District IV losers’ bracket

LINCOLN – It’s been said time and time again that good pitching beats good hitting, and last Friday night, one of the top hitting teams in the District IV Major Division all-star baseball tournament was silenced by one of the area’s top Little League pitchers.

After averaging 11 runs and 13 hits in tournament-opening victories over Cumberland National and Burrillville, Woonsocket fell victim to the superb one-hit pitching of Lincoln’s Donavon Lopez in last Friday’s winners’ bracket final of the double-elimination tourney at Randy Hien Field.

And not only did Lopez enjoy a banner day, but so did his teammates, who pounded out 13 hits to help fuel an 11-0 victory that took just 67 minutes to wrap up and was halted after 3 1/2 innings by the mercy rule.

Woonsocket, which was making its first appearance in the winners’ bracket final since 2015, was scheduled to play in Wednesday night’s losers’ bracket final against defending state champion Cumberland American, which stayed alive in the tournament on Monday night by blanking Burrillville, 7-0.

Wednesday night’s ballgame, like Woonsocket’s last three, was on the road, no thanks to damage late last month to the outfield grass at Lajoie Field that made the venue unplayable.

The winner of Wednesday’s affair will head to Smithfield’s Whipple Field on Saturday at 7 p.m. to battle Lincoln in the championship game. Lincoln would have to win either that game or a winner-take-all contest the following night in order to capture its third district title in the last four years and fourth since 2013.

If Woonsocket makes it to Saturday night’s title game, it would mark the first time in 15 years that a Little League team from the city played for the championship (East Woonsocket lost to Lincoln in the finals), and if Woonsocket gets there, it will look to put forth a better effort, especially defensively.

After playing near-flawless defense in its first two games, Woonsocket committed three errors, including one on a misplayed fly ball in shallow center field that opened the bottom of the first inning and set the stage for a five-run rally.

“You can’t make mistakes like that against this team,” Woonsocket manager Michael Cinquantini noted. “Those little plays, we never make those mistakes. We can’t expect to play every game on the road and expect good things to happen without playing clean baseball. You have to play clean baseball at this level.”

Lincoln scored all the runs it needed when the dropped flyball and a single to left field by Lopez was followed by a long three-run homer to left by Ryan Thompson. The hosts then scored twice in the second and four times in the third.

As for Lopez, who was pitching against his cousin, Woonsocket standout Kenny “K.J.” Lopez, he struck out eight batters, walked two, and didn’t allow a runner to get past first base. Mariano Lopez’s leadoff single to center in the fourth broke up the no-hit bid.

“I think going into (the game), they were ready,” Cinquantini added. “I think mentally they were thinking way too much and just weren’t playing baseball. There were little nerves coming into this. We just had to overcome them, but (Lincoln) is a great team. All the props to them on (the win). We just have to keep working, clean up our mistakes, and keep battling.”

Woonsocket was coming off a 12-3 victory over Burrillville that saw Isaiah Figueroa and Trenton Brin clock home runs and team up to drive in eight runs and winning pitcher Shayne Godin collect three hits and drive in as many runs.

Woonsocket pitcher Kenny “K.J.” Lopez, shown firing a pitch to the plate during last week’s game against Lincoln, was the winning pitcher in the team’s District IV opener against Cumberland National, as he tossed 4 1/3 innings of one-hit relief. Lopez and his teammates were back in action on Wednesday night, playing defending state champion Cumberland American in the losers’ bracket final.