Lincoln boys heading to Bristol

Lincoln boys heading to Bristol

Stars breeze through state tournament

CRANSTON - They're heading to Bristol with one goal in mind - a trip to Williamsport for the Little League World Series.

After destroying every team in the state tournament, the Lincoln Little League Majors all-star team earned the right to compete in the New England Tournament in Bristol, Conn. which begins tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 2, when they take on the Maine state champions.

The Lincoln boys capped off their state run with another mercy rule win, this time 13-2 over host Cranston Western, to take the title. Earlier in the tournament, they beat the same Cranston team, 13-0, and then polished off Bristol, 11-0, with every game ended after four innings via the mercy rule.

The team congregated at Randy Hien Field this morning, Thursday, Aug. 1 for a bit of hitting practice before climbing into vehicles and heading out on the two-hour drive to Bristol.

"I think we're ready," assistant coach Marty Gaughan said. "Are we that good? I've been reluctant to say it, but yeah, I think we are. This is a very special group of boys."

Manager Matt Netto, who has never been to Bristol, Conn. for any reason, was a bit more cautious.

"It's baseball and you can beat a team 13-0 one day and then lose to the same team the next," the manager said. "We gave the kids the weekend off because they've been working really hard for a month straight, but it was back to work on Monday with some hard practice."

In Friday night's final, Lincoln proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with. The team pounded out nine runs in the first inning and then gave the ball to southpaw pitcher Kyle Marrapese, who was named the defensive player of the game for shutting down Cranston Western on just three hits.

Throughout the district and state tournaments Lincoln has outscored their opponents 102-12.

"We've been lucky enough that our bats have been hot and stayed hot," Netto said. "The boys are disciplined at the plate and follow a certain approach. And we've had lucky bounces along the way."

After a rain out Thursday and a delay Friday night, baseball was finally played at about 7 p.m. when Cranston Western took the field as the home team. Their first pitcher, Anthony Eaucello, was hit hard and was taken out after facing six batters getting only one out.

Aaron DeSousa reached base to start the game on an error by the second baseman. He moved to over to third on David Bordieri's double that hit the center field fence.

Bordieri had an awesome night at the plate and was named the offensive star of the game. He slammed three hits in four trips to the plate, including a double and homer, both coming in the first inning.

But first it was Steven Andrews, who on an 0-1 pitch, took it yard over the right field fence and into the parking lot for a 3-0 advantage. Connor Benbenek and Blake Zaniol both reached before Eaucello was replaced by Jake Procacciante.

Braedon Carney welcomed Procacciante with a two-run single to right center before the next two batters walked to load the bases. Carney scored on a passed ball before a strikeout.

With two on and two out, Bordieri stepped up to the plate for the second time in the first inning. He saw one strike before belting one out of the park for the three-run homer to give Lincoln the 9-0 lead before the Cranston team had a chance to bat.

After batting around and sending 14 batters to the plate in the first inning, they batted seven hitters in the second scoring two more runs. Zaniol hit his second double of the game before Carney drove him in with a two-run homer over the right center field fence.

Of the 13 players on the roster, only one player did not reach base. Bordieri was also the only player to score two runs in the same inning. Zaniol went three-for-three, while Marrapese reached base three times.

Netto said though that they prefer being known as a defensive team.

"We've allowed so few runs," he said. "We take a lot of pride in our defense. We had a couple of errors today but we like to play great defense."

The first play for Lincoln was an error as the right fielder dropped the ball, but they dusted themselves off and went on to the next play. Bordieri made a nice diving stop at shortstop but did not have time to make a good throw to first as Procacciante reached. The lead off batter was forced out at third before Marrapese struck out the final two batters.

Marrapese struck out nine batters in total but Brian Shattle reached on the drop third strike in the third. The third inning was the toughest for Lincoln as both Mike DiCenso and Procacciante reached on infield singles.

After a strikeout and passed ball Marrapese had Shattle struck out, but the ball went by Benbenek allowing DiCenso to score and Shattle to reach first. Benbenek let another ball go through as Procacciante scored for Cranston Western's second run.

After a walk, Marrapese regrouped and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

Lincoln faced a new pitcher in the fourth that kept them off the board as two players reached base but could not get further than first.

Marrapese came back out to the mound in the bottom of the fourth to finish what he started. He struck out the first batter and Cooper Krusz grounded out to first.

Marrapese needed four pitches to finish off his final batter with a strikeout to end the game at 13-2 and giving Lincoln the championship and the ability to move on to Bristol.

"This is an amazing feeling," Netto said about winning. "This is my fourth year coaching and I have never made it to the state tournament. This group of kids love the game."

This group of kids could have been made up with different kids as Netto said they had 19-20 kids that could have made this team.

"This was the hardest team I've ever had to put together," he said. "The boys that made the team understood that they were very lucky to be here. That there were many other kids that wanted to be exactly where they were. So they never got too high. They stayed humble and they worked very hard."

He added that his team will not be satisfied with just Bristol and their ultimate goal is the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.