NPS 14s sit two wins away from N.E. title

NPS 14s sit two wins away from N.E. title

Alex Ferranti, center, is mobbed by his teammates and his coaches after delivering a walkoff single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the North Providence-Smithfield Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-star team to an 8-7 win over Pittsfield, Mass., last Saturday in Westfield, Mass.
Babe Ruth all-star team takes field for regional semifinals Thursday in Rochester, N.H.

ROCHESTER, N.H. – For the second straight season, the North Providence-Smithfield Babe Ruth League’s 14-year-old all-star baseball team is back in the semifinals of the New England tournament.

Playing in the eight-team regional tourney at Simard Field in Rochester, N.H., NP-Smithfield posted a 3-0 record in last weekend’s pool play to receive a bye in the quarterfinals and a berth in Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. semis against either the Connecticut state champion, Milford, or Vermont state champ, Barre.

The 14-year-old all-stars began their road to the Final Four last Friday night by posting a 6-5 victory over Milford, Conn., and after they won a pitcher’s duel on Saturday afternoon with the Maine state champion, Greater Portland, 3-1, they rolled to a 12-5 victory over host Rochester the following night.

Ryan Kennedy’s run-scoring hit in the top of the seventh inning brought home the winning run that lifted NP-Smithfield to its close win over Milford. NP-Smithfield collected 11 hits, with Nick Collins socking two doubles and Nick Tsonos, Elijah Moffat, and John Pesce also joining the multiple-hit club.

On the hill, NP-Smithfield saw Zach Lavallee work the first four innings, Chris Lopez pitch the next two, and closer Bradyn Shadoian shut down Milford in the home half of the seventh. The trio was also backed up nicely by their team’s errorless defense in the field.

Against Greater Portland, which is the defending regional champion, NP-Smithfield only collected one hit in the game, yet was able to score runs in the first, second, and fourth innings. Mike Ficocelli drove in NP-Smithfield’s first run with a groundout to third, and the other two runs came home on infield errors.

Collins, who collected NP-Smithfield’s hit leading off the bottom of the second, teamed up with Lopez to pitch a five-hitter. Lopez picked up the win by tossing four-plus innings of four-hit ball, striking out three batters and allowing Greater Portland’s run in the fourth, and Collins earned a save by setting down nine of the 10 batters he faced. The 14s again played errorless defense behind both pitchers.

The win over Rochester saw Ficocelli, Jordan Tobin, and Marcus Mensah team up to strike out 10 batters on the hill. Offensively, Brayden Cockcroft went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs; Anthony SanMartino singled, walked twice, and scored three times in as many at-bats, and Mensah clubbed a two-run single.

As for NP-Smithfield’s 13- and 15-year-old all-stars, they posted 1-2 pool play records in their respective eight-team tournaments to earn berths in their quarterfinals.

Unfortunately for the 15-year-olds, who played at Bullens Field in Westfield, Mass., they were dealt a quick exit on Monday morning, as they allowed three unearned runs in the first inning en route to a 4-1 loss to Greater Portland.

The 13-year-olds, meanwhile, were in action at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford, Conn., but saw their game on Monday night against Keene, N.H. get moved to Tuesday at 7 p.m. due to inclement weather.

NP-Smithfield saw its tournament get off to a rough start last Friday night, as the locals lost to the host team, Stamford, 11-5.

NP-Smithfield came back the following afternoon to post a thrilling 3-2 win over Barre, as Isiah Ramos knocked in the winning run in the home half of the eighth, but on Sunday afternoon, the all-stars were topped by Greater Portland, 7-2.

Last Saturday’s win saw Barre grab a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. But after NP-Smithfield got a run back in its half of the third on a sacrifice fly to left by Jayden Champagne, the all-stars knotted the score in the fourth on another sac fly to left, this one by Jarden Tolentino.

Tyler Lee got the start for NP-Smithfield and allowed five hits in seven innings of work, striking out four batters along the way. The winning pitcher was Jordan Loiselle, who tossed a scoreless top of the eighth by wiggling his way out of a bases-loaded threat.

Lee and Ramos each collected two of NP-Smithfield’s eight hits, and Jordan Hurst swiped three bases, as the all-stars totaled eight thefts in the game.

The loss to Stamford saw the host team score twice in the bottom of the second and three times in each of the next three innings. NP-Smithfield, which only collected four hits, two by Ryan Flynn, scored all its runs in the fifth, as Ramos socked a two-run double to center and two runs came home on balks.

NP-Smithfield struggled mightily in the field in this one, committing nine errors that led to six unearned runs. The all-stars used six pitchers that combined for 11 strikeouts.

Sunday’s loss to Greater Portland saw NP-Smithfield avoid getting shut out in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly to left by Flynn that was followed by an RBI double to left by Ramos.

As for the 15s, they suffered a 16-1 loss in their opening game last Friday afternoon to Keene, but came back 24 hours later to notch arguably the most exciting victory of the tourney, an 8-7 win over Pittsfield, Mass.

Down by a 5-1 score after 3½ innings of play, NP-Smithfield jumped back into the game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Drew Halloran, a fielder’s choice grounder by Guiseppe Lisi, and an RBI single to left by Nick Rioles.

With two outs in the home half of the seventh, Tom Ferri heroically sent the game into extra innings by lining a double to right that brought in John DeCarmo, and that set the stage for a wild eighth inning.

Pittsfield scored a pair of runs with two gone in the top of the inning, but NP-Smithfield responded with three of its own in its half of the frame to pull off the magical victory.

Nathan Kelly led off by reaching on an error, and an out later, Lisi got plunked by a pitch and Rioles lined another single to left for his third hit of the contest.

When the left fielder misplayed the ball, Kelly was able to hustle home with a run, and Lisi and Rioles also advanced 90 feet.

After a walk to DeCarmo loaded the bases, Gian Carroccio got hit by a pitch to force in Lisi with the tying run. Alex Ferranti then won the contest with a walkoff line single to center that scored Rioles and set off a celebration by NP-Smithfield near first base.

Jack Dwyer, Ferranti, and DeCarmo each had two hits to lead NP-Smithfield offensively.

NP-Smithfield then lost its pool play finale on Sunday afternoon, dropping a 10-7 decision to Braintree, Mass. NP-Smithfield collected 10 hits in the game, two each by DeCarmo and Dwyer, but also left nine runners on base.

And in Monday’s loss, Rioles, who got the start on the mound, pitched a strong five innings, and Kelly turned in his third outstanding effort of the tourney out of the bullpen, pitching out of a jam in the sixth after another unearned run was scored. Ferranti also had an outstanding day at the plate, going 3-for-3.

NP-Smithfield’s top hitters in the tournament were Ferranti, who batted .500, Rioles (.417), and Dwyer (.385).