Upper Deck’s bats finally come alive in three-game win streak

Upper Deck’s bats finally come alive in three-game win streak

Post 14 improves to 5-3 in R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League by defeating Scituate, Howard Rogers, N.E. Frozen Lemonade

CUMBERLAND – After averaging just four runs and six hits in its first five games of the R.I. 19-20 Elite Baseball League season, it looks like Upper Deck Post 14 has finally found its groove at the plate.

The two-time defending American Legion state champions climbed over the .500 mark last week by producing a dozen hits in three straight games, the first two in back-to-back mercy-rule victories on the road, a 10-0 victory over Howard Rogers Post 25 last Friday at Pawtucket’s Max Read Field and a 14-3 triumph over Scituate Post 19 two nights earlier at Manning Field.

And on Monday night at Tucker Field, Upper Deck bumped its record to 5-3 and moved into a tie for second place in the standings with New England Frozen Lemonade Post 101 by posting an 8-1 victory over NEFL.

“We’re starting to get in a groove offensively,” Upper Deck manager Matt Allard said after last Friday’s victory. “It took everyone a couple of weeks to get used to live pitching, but now they’re swinging the bats really well, and we’re hoping that continues next week and for the rest of the year.”

Upper Deck may be 5-3, but with a little bit of luck, Post 14 might have had an extra win or two to its credit.

Four nights before blanking Howard Rogers, Upper Deck hosted Post 25 at Tucker Field, but suffered a 4-3 loss that saw the visitors score twice in the top of the seventh inning.

And earlier in the season, Post 14 was also dealt a 4-3 defeat in walkoff fashion to Gershkoff/Auburn Post 20 at Cranston Stadium. Gershkoff/Auburn entered Wednesday night’s action in first place with a 7-1 mark.

“Those two losses had been in the last inning,” Allard said. “We’ve been in every game this year and we feel like we’re kind of rolling a little bit now.”

After collecting three hits in the win over Scituate, Kyle DeLuca continued to swing a hot bat for Upper Deck last Friday, as he went 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk, and one of nine stolen bases in the game by Post 14.

Randall Hien also went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and two stolen bases; Michael Nocera, who also had two thefts, and Jack LaRose each reached base three times, and Nick Croteau highlighted a five-run rally in the fifth with a two-run double to center.

Upper Deck did all the damage it needed to do in the top of the second inning by scoring four times. Hien led off with a base hit, and after he swiped second base, he scored on DeLuca’s long triple to center. J.J. Sanzi also singled home a run, and two errors by Howard Rogers help add to Post 14’s lead.

Ryan Thompson and LaRose also drove in runs with base hits in the fifth, and that helped give starting pitcher Ben Hale, pictured, more than enough support in raising his record to 3-0. Hale worked the first five innings, striking out two batters and yielding three hits and two walks, and Croteau took the hill for the seventh and struck out the side.

“Ben struggled early on, but he got stronger as the game went on,” reported Allard. “He’s our horse; he’s our ace, and every time we give him the ball, we feel like we’re going to win.”

In the victory over Scituate, C.J. Davock joined DeLuca in Upper Deck’s three-hit club, and Nocera, who drew three walks, and Shane Calabro tacked on two hits apiece. LaRose and DeLuca each knocked in three runs, and Davock also drove in a pair.

Upper Deck wasted no time in taking control of the game by scoring six times in the top of the first inning. After Scituate answered back with two runs in its half of the inning, Post 14 responded with five more runs in the second.

Nocera, meanwhile, pitched all five innings for Upper Deck, striking out seven batters and giving up seven hits and two walks.

On Monday, DeLuca got the start on the hill and teamed up with reliever Ryan Kirkpatrick to pitch a five-hitter. DeLuca picked up the win by striking out nine batters in five innings of work.

Upper Deck, meanwhile, found itself in a tight battle with NEFL, but with the score tied at 1-1, Post 14 erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Nocera led the way at the plate with three hits, and Calabro added two hits and as many runs batted in.

Monday night’s win over NEFL kicked off a busy week for Upper Deck, which was scheduled to head to Newport’s Cardines Field on Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. doubleheader with last-place R&R Construction Post 7. Upper Deck is back in action on Friday with a 5:30 p.m. game at Smithfield High against Smithfield/North Providence Post 29.

Upper Deck Post 14 second baseman Randall Hien, left, makes the putout at second to erase Howard Rogers Post 25 runner Trey Thibault from the basepaths during the bottom of the third inning of last Friday’s game at Max Read Field, won by Upper Deck, 10-0.